Internal Memo: 10 times more WIPP nuclear drums risk exploding than media reported — Expert: Data shows increasing amount of radioactivity going into environment — Official: Something “caused drum to later catch fire”; Gov’t should investigate if truck fire & electrical surge led to the radiation release
Published: July 5th, 2014 at 2:28 pm ET
AP, July 4, 2014 (emphasis added): Teams of scientists and engineers are still trying to determine exactly what caused a barrel [at New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP)] from Los Alamos to burst […] Despite hundreds of experiments to date, investigators have been unable to create any reaction that would have caused the container to leak like it did […] The accident has […] indefinitely shuttered the mine […] According to the memo obtained by The Associated Press, [Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Principal Associate Lab Director Terry Wallace] told employees at a meeting Monday that the probe is focused on 16 barrels of highly acidic, nitrate-salt-bearing waste, including the drum that leaked at [WIPP]. Ten of the other barrels [11 total, including the one that ruptured] are also underground at the [WIPP] mine[…] Wallace is quoted in the memo as saying that a technical review “identified certain conditions that might potentially cause an exothermic reaction inside a drum. Among them are neutralized liquids, a low pH and the presence of metals.”
According to the AP’s article above, the investigation is now focusing on 11 barrels in the WIPP underground, yet only a few weeks ago the AP reported: “Officials say 6… potentially explosive containers of waste [were shipped] from Los Alamos National Laboratory… [Five] are being stored at a site in West Texas [and] one at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant [believed to be the source of the radiation leak].
Albuquerque Journal interview with Miles Smith, EnergySolutions’ vice president of Southwest operations, July 3, 2014: “We don’t believe the combination we put into the drums, we don’t think it has the ability to start burning on its own. It needs an outside source of ignition […] It doesn’t look like the kitty litter was the cause […] I don’t believe [absorbent materials] caused the explosion or the fire. [One of the two suspect products, an acid neutralizer, is not a problem]. Its safety sheet says it is not incompatible [The other product, a base neutralizer, is incompatible with the nitrates in WIPP waste but this neutralizer wasn’t used in the WIPP-bound barrels.] We think there are other things that caused the drum to later catch fire [there] are a lot of things out there [to investigate, including a truck fire and an electrical surge in the days before the leak.]
Albuquerque Journal, July 3, 2014: Don Hancock of the Southwest Research and Information Center, a WIPP watchdog, said Smith’s comments are consistent with those of state Environment Department […] but noted that no one from [Los Alamos National Lab] has weighed in. “I would say I’ve always been skeptical of the kitty litter issue,” he said. “Anybody with a cat knows that kitty litter itself is not combustible. It’s got to be kitty litter and something else.”
Don Hancock, Southwest Research and Information Center, June 25, 2014: […] the current data show that there are increased amounts of radioactivity going into the environment as contaminated filters are being changed. […] DOE presumes that the ventilation system and the exhaust shaft are too contaminated to use in a re-opened facility. On June 18, the House Appropriations Committee approved $20 million dollars […] as a down payment for new ventilation and a new exhaust shaft. […] it is very difficult or impossible to determine exactly what happened and how much contamination was released.
See also: Radiation spikes at WIPP nuclear facility — Hits highest levels since initial hours of radioactive release in February — Document link removed from official website — Gov’t analyzing samples for “potential impact on human health”
Published: July 5th, 2014 at 2:28 pm ET
- Video: Gov’t official ‘chokes up’ over WIPP problems — Needs 15-second pause at community meeting — President of nuclear dump replaced — “We definitely got away with not having anyone seriously hurt” — Took 30 minutes to notice fire, truck leaking oil, extinguisher didn’t work March 14, 2014
- Nuclear Expert: Hydrogen explosion suspected as cause of WIPP plutonium release — Meeting: Are more lids going to blow? Seeing how top of drum blew off has me concerned it isn’t ‘low level’ — Former DOE Expert: US will inevitably shift to storing radioactive waste on surface after this (VIDEO) June 17, 2014
- Expert: ‘Cracked’ nuclear container “blew top off” at WIPP — Hundreds more drums at dump risk ‘energetic reaction’ and radiation release — Insider: Get forklift and remove them before another accident — Official: No ‘imminent’ public threat ‘at this time’ (VIDEO)May 19, 2014
- Expert: No one in world has ever dealt with something like WIPP disaster — Continuous release of radioactive material ’24/7′ to environment — Nobody knows when leaking will end — It’s a ‘major failure’ for so many people to be exposed — Gov’t yet to say if dump will open again (AUDIO) April 6, 2014
- ‘New tests show elevated radiation’ near U.S. nuclear site — ‘More airborne radiation detected’ around WIPP — Gov’t issues press release on ‘radiological event’ (MAP)February 24, 2014