Could Spider-Man become a reality? Bizarre white cobweb found on nuclear waste that could have come from a ‘mutant’ spider

truther February 9, 2012 0

By Ted Thornhill

Scientists are investigating a bizarre white cobweb found on nuclear waste – amid fears it could have been made by a ‘mutant’ spider.

In a freakish echo of the Spider-Man comic strip, workers at a U.S nuclear waste facility discovered the growth on uranium last month.

The white ‘string-like’ material – never seen before on nuclear waste – was found among thousands of spent fuel assemblies submerged in deep pools.

Mysterious: The top of the uranium fuel assembly where a white cobweb like material has been found

Web of intrigue: The discovery means mutant spiders, like the one that bit Peter Parker, could become a realityWeb of intrigue: The discovery means mutant spiders, like the one that bit Peter Parker, could become a reality

Experts from Savannah River National Laboratory collected a small sample of the mystery material to run tests.

A report filed by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board – a federal oversight panel – concluded: ‘The growth, which resembles a spider web, has yet to be characterised, but may be biological in nature.’

The report said the initial sample of the growth was too small to characterise, and that ‘further evaluation still needs to be completed’.

But the bizarre growth will stoke fears that nuclear fuel can cause Frankenstein-style mutations.

It echoes the plot of Spider-Man, where Peter Parker becomes a superhero after being bitten by a mutant spider at a nuclear waste laboratory.

Radioactive: Inside the Savannah River Site nuclear facility where the strange webs have been foundRadioactive: Inside the Savannah River Site nuclear facility where the strange webs have been found

The webs were found at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, a 300-square-mile nuclear clean-up facility owned by the U.S Department of Energy.

Experts say that any creature inside in the pools of water – which are intended to protect workers – would have been exposed to the nuclear fuel.

This raises the prospect of a creature having morphed into a new species of ‘extremophile’ after being exposed to uranium.

Organisms with a natural resistance to radiation are said to be ‘radioresistant,’ and do exist. Deinococcus radiodurans is one of the most naturally radioresistant organisms on Earth and has been genetically engineered so that that it can be used in the treatment of radioactive waste.

Osman Kemal Kadirolu, a former professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Istanbul, said: ‘As we know life evolves in most unusual places. Volcanoes at the mid-Atlantic are thriving with life where the water temperature is below 0C and pressure is more than 300atm. Or in hot salt water pools around geysers.

‘The water in the spent fuel pools is maintained at a certain pH and temperature. If micro organisms enter into the pool they may have a chance to live.

‘The radiation field near a spent fuel assembly is very large and will definitely disturb the normal life cycle of the micro-organisms.

‘Though I am sure you would not get monsters like the ones that come out of the Sea of Japan in cheap Japanese horror movies.’

The growth was found on fuel stored in a compound with three-foot-thick concrete walls and pools that ranged from 17 to 30ft deep.  

Racks of nuclear waste are submerged in the water – some containing highly enriched uranium – from foreign and domestic research reactors.

Will Callicott, a spokesman for Savannah River National Laboratory, said in an e-mail that officials hope to collect a larger sample for analysis.

He added: ‘Whatever it is, it doesn’t appear to be causing any damage.’

Nobody from U.S. Department of Energy or Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board was available for comment. #DailyMail

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