A space-saving method for storing spent nuclear fuel has dramatically heightened the risk of a catastrophic radiation release in the event of a terrorist attack, according to a study initiated at Princeton. Terrorists targeting the high-density storage systems used at nuclear power plants throughout the nation could cause contamination problems “significantly worse than those from Chernobyl,” the study found.
An environmentally friendly solution to one of the world’s most notorious chemical contamination problems may be a step closer to reality, reports a research team from Purdue University and the University of British Columbia. The team has identified one of the key stumbling blocks that prevent microorganisms from decomposing PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), a persistent and potentially hazardous industrial chemical that has become nearly ubiquitous in the environment. While capitalizing on the discovery will take time, it could eventually show researchers how to teach microorganisms to break down PCBs into ecologically safe molecules, a process known as bioremediation.