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
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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.]

See also: “Very likely” multiple nuclear waste drums exploded at WIPP — Signs of fire observed — It was clearly something major

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
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319 comments

Related Posts

  1. ‘Green burst’ and ‘criticality event’ under investigation by gov’t in connection with plutonium release at U.S. nuclear site #WIPP — Official: Underground fire may have initiated reaction in ruptured radioactive waste drum — Concern over possible arson/sabotage? (VIDEO) July 24, 2014
  2. 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
  3. Lab Director: Expect radiation spikes coming from US nuclear facility — Gov’t pays for more air monitors to see impact on populated areas — DOE warns of ‘ignitability’ of 368 containers at site; “Significant fire risk” — Top Official: Material at WIPP “just disintegrated… got very hot, very quickly” (VIDEO) August 2, 2014
  4. 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
  5. 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

319 comments to 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

  • chevvvy chev

    Washington – Citing a series of fatal malfunctions dating back to 1777, flag manufacturer Annin & Company announced Monday that it would be recalling all makes and models of its popular American flag from both foreign and domestic markets.

    Representatives from the nation's leading flag producer claimed that as many as 143 million deaths in the past two centuries can be attributed directly to the faulty U.S. models, which have been utilized extensively since the 18th century in sectors as diverse as government, the military, and public education.

    "It has come to our attention that, due to the inherent risks and hazards it poses, the American flag is simply unfit for general use," said Annin & Company president Ronald Burman, who confirmed that the number of flag-related deaths had noticeably spiked since 2003. "I would like to strongly urge all U.S. citizens: If you have an American flag hanging in your home or place of business, please discontinue using it immediately.


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  • I think I coined the term "dirty bomb" in relation to the incorrectly mixed radiation barrels.

    But I am glad that others are running with the term…..
    Chris Harris, former licensed Senior Reactor Operator and engineer, said June 19, 2014 at 33:45 into the interview: "I do believe the part about it being a hydrogen explosion [at WIPP]– due to the decomposition of the green kitty litter — that causes a whole bunch of problems, and one of them is that this is a huge dirty bomb."

    Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/045871_WIPP_dirty_bomb_plutonium.html#ixzz36nSd8Wok


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  • melting mermaid melting mermaid

    Does anyone know how exactly big wipp is under there, out of the reach of the public eye? It must be vast if they are doing experiments down there, too. Right? Or do they just enjoy pushing deregulation to the envelope. Wippee! Look what we can do, Doh!


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    • Ya dem der Cave Boyz get pretty wild when they are safe from public view…..


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    • Wonderful info I hadn't seen, plus history pages on Albuquerque activist site. http://www.cardnm.org/hmpgfrm_a.html Go skip around. :) Lots to look through.

      >The underground repository lies 2150' below the surface and will ultimately comprise 500 acres. The WIPP site itself, also known as the Land Withdrawal Area (Figure 1), is 16 square miles, or 10,240 acres. When fully excavated, the underground repository would consist of 10 panels–8 side panels, each of which would contain 7 rooms, and 2 panel-equivalents in the main drifts or corridors…

      …The 13' high by 33' wide rooms will be short-lived. Large open fractures appear in the ceilings of all rooms within months of mining. Several roof-falls and floor heaves have already occurred at WIPP, so an extensive array of roof bolts has been installed to delay the failure of the remaining rooms long enough to fill them with drums. These and all future rooms will suffer collapse of major roof slabs bounded above by weak clay-bed partings. Such falls will crush the drums, and uncontained waste will enter the fractures. DOE has assumed roof fractures extending upwards only to Marker Bed #138, forty feet above the rooms, but as creep subsidence incorporates whole panels and then the repository width, horizontal slip and openings will occur on successively higher clay seams…<


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      • >The Salado salt was supposed to be dry but is, in fact, wet. (DOE calls it "essentially dry".) Water from the ancient sea that covered this area is locked into the salt crystals. This water seeps into the repository fairly quickly after the repository is mined. In addition, water has flowed into the Exhaust Shaft where the excavation makes connections to water-bearing formations.
        …eventually parts of the repository may have large amounts of brine in contact with the waste. (Some parts of the repository are lower than the rest, so some rooms would collect brine sooner than others.) This would corrode the waste containers and the waste, and cause the waste to become mixed into a slurry which would be much more easily transported into the outside environment than dry waste would be. The brine also reacts with components of the waste and the steel waste containers to create gases which could affect the closure rate of the rooms or could push waste into the clay and shale layers.
        …CAMs can be severely affected by the buildup of salt particles in the repository air—sometimes losing 90% of their plutonium detection efficiency. Water flowing into the Exhaust Shaft from the excavated rock also causes problems for the CAM there. Exhaust air is not routinely filtered to remove radioactivity. <


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        • We Not They Finally

          You're saying that since the salt was really NOT all dry, they dangerously misassessed the suitability of this site in the first place? (Not that any place would have been "suitable.")


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          • Not suitable from the get go, way back when it seems, from info from the official reports by the folks at http://www.cardnm.org/hmpgfrm_a.html

            Sickening isn't it. :( Still trying to find you the exact links to separate topics. The cardnm site is a bit confusing. Lots of info.)
            Something else I just found towards bottom of a different page which is titled SITE -> http://www.cardnm.org/backfrm_a.html

            >The danger from a pressurized brine reservoir below the site is so great, that the repository location has been moved twice to avoid brine. In 1978 borehole ERDA-6 encountered brine and the original repository location was moved. In 1981 borehole WIPP-12, one mile north of the present repository also hit pressurized brine. Brine flowed to the surface at a rate of 1500 barrels per day for 40 days before the borehole was capped. The total brine outflow was about 2.5 million gallons. The repository was moved again to its present location and was sited only 2150 feet below ground in order to keep it away from brine pockets. (The salt lower down is purer and therefore has fewer interbeds in it along which water or radionuclides could migrate. The danger from brine reservoirs outweighed the benefits of the lack of interbeds, however.) Unfortunately, surfaced-based geophysical tests indicate the existence of brine in the Castile Formation directly under the present site as well. <


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            • Shite! I knew it was there, but this is crazy… 2.5 Million gallons to the surface, unreal! Sad!


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              • So we really don't know if there's a full-on brine situation happening too with the latest panel snafu but I really think they don't want people knowing about these studies they ignored. They WERE warned….over and over!

                The mind reels.


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                • nedlifromvermont

                  One weeps for the still fresh water in the Rustler formation redbeds aquifer above …

                  Did you get to the part where the geologist says "eventually radionuclide transport through the groundwater system to the Pecos River drainage, and from there on into the Rio Grande River can be assumed to occur in less than one thousand years … one thousand years, Baby … say it after me … one thousand years … it has a mesmerizing effect on the brain, does it not … one thousand years … das dritte Reich!!!


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      • melting mermaid melting mermaid

        Thanks, Teri. A few tasty tidbits from that. When full WIPP would hold 13 metric tons of plutonium 239. 60 to 70% of WIPP waste is mixed waste, meaning mixed with chemicals, solvents or heavy metals. Does the nuclear industry ever do anything that isn't full on, batshit crazy pants? Ever? They're just trying their little hearts out to pack it so full before it collapses on itself, that maybe it won't collapse on itself. *@#king idiots! Are you serious? This is our plan for storing our nation's transuranic waste. I hang my head in shame. Really, that's the best we could come up with? How many billions did it cost to do such a piss poor job? Nevermind, I don't want to know.


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  • Looky here, the same list of criminal characters that are effing up big time at WIPP are involved with Savanna River cleanup…they have completed 4 of 51 tanks since 2009 and they are tooting their own horn.

    That work is being performed by URS Corp.-led SRR. URS is joined by a team of major national corporations that comprises SRR – Bechtel National; CH2M HILL; and Babcock and Wilcox; along with critical subcontractors AREVA, Energy Solutions and URS Professional Solutions

    http://chronicle.augusta.com/opinion/opinion-columns/2014-07-06/agencies-srs-are-reaching-summit-nuclear-waste-cleanup?v=1404610536


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  • Johnny Blade Johnny Blade

    Apparently the mountain of radioactive crap in drums under tarps,buried and in the case of the earliest instances they've lost track of what,where & how much they tossed in a hole & threw a bit of dirt on top while these "annual"(?)fires rage all around the place??!! http://hisz.rsoe.hu/alertmap/site/?pageid=event_map&edis_id=WF-20140630-44345-USA Not a day goes by that ongoing or new instances of events & conditions threaten inventories of nuclear poisons wherever it's created and/or stored! There's no way we humans nor the life forms we pose with extinction can overcome the impacts of the crap being produced & released at the rate they've been unleashing nuclear genies from their bottles!! :(


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  • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

    Are we all feeling lucky? Only 11 years away? Beam me up Scotty! What Radiation Contamination?
    https://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/top-10-discoveries-rock-world-2025-100035596.html


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  • Sickputer

    Current Argus News:

    Headline: Top government official meets with workers at WIPP

    Excerpt:

    "…A top government official from Washington, D.C. visited with WIPP personnel and assessed the progress of underground recovery this week.

    Jesse Roberson, the vice chairwoman of the Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board (DNSFB), toured the nuclear waste disposal facility located 26 miles southeast of Carlsbad…"

    http://www.currentargus.com/carlsbad-news/ci_26115976/top-government-official-meets-workers-at-wipp

    SP: Top tier nucleoape gathering info for the big cheese. So glad she could come view the debacle at the salt mine. Don't expect her to take a tour anytime soon of Panel Room 7. I guess the complimentary salt-rimmed margaritas were not on the WIPP welcome wagon this time.

    And to think WIPP was such a STAR of the 2013New Mexico festivities Carlsbad's Christmas on the Pecos!

    http://albumoaa.org/modules.php?set_albumName=album05&id=1_WIPP_Experience_Exhibits_Map&op=modload&name=Gallery&file=index&include=view_photo.php

    SP: Just look at all the places they have in mind to bring their nuclear waste to WIPP. Now they can add Andrews to their map for some takebacks! What a great place to work and live! (Not)


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  • Sparky Sparky

    WIPP Town Hall Meeting Alert, is LIVE now:

    http://new.livestream.com/rrv/events/3176574

    It would be good to have Enenews/'Newsers well-represented. 'Come join the fun! ;-)


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    • califnative califnative

      Sparky-thanks for the headups, by the time I went there it was over. They have a replay, next meeting is July 24th. Very cool to see that you can ask question by chat forum. So they didn't answer questions?


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      • Sparky Sparky

        Hi Califnative, Our on-line moderator is usually "CarlsbadKyle" who is really pretty proficient in organizing and asking on-line participants' questions. He was out for some reason tonight and although "Sam" was filling-in for him, it is a difficult job and we really only got about 6-7 questions at the most answered from the on-line participants.

        The biggest problem was that they ended an hour earlier that than advertized. The technology host is Red Rocket, and even they thought the mtg. was supposed to continue through to 9:30 p.m. EST.

        I'd say we just got WIPPed…again. :-(


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  • Sparky Sparky

    "Dean Racer" (aka, ??? on Enenews) and other 'Newsers: DOE/WIPP are reducing and may discontinue the WIPP Town Hall mtgs. due to the low number of participants. I'd like to encourage Enenewsers to mark their calendars now for the next mtg. which is scheduled for July 24th, 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. US/EST. Here's the link:

    http://new.livestream.com/rrv/events/3176574

    This is right in our own backyards, folks, with hundreds of dirty bombs stored above and below ground in hot and highly unstable conditions. :-(


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  • Sparky Sparky

    "Dean Racer" from the WIPP town hall mtg. chat has noted that people ARE participating. He's right. Here are the numbers of views of the recorded WIPP town hall mtgs. by date:

    6/19/14 – 963 views
    6/5/14 – 740 views
    5/29/14 – 383 views (lowever viewership due to confusion, people couldn't get in and they had two sites set-up, one not operational)
    5/22/14 – 843 views

    I, personally, would like to see those numbers go up overall, with more on-line particiation in the live WIPP Town Hall mtgs. by 'Newsers. Questions that don't get answered (supposedly) are forwarded to DoE for on-line posting, with answers. (I need to check that out to confirm.)

    As Stock says, you can
    "Groke It!"
    "WIPP It!" or
    "Tip It!"

    But please do get involved. I'll be looking for ya'll on the 24th. :-)

    (HT to LastChantsTeri, "groke" originator)


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  • 52Rockwell

    I missed this one Stock. I have family in town. What did I miss? :) More bullshit? I suspect Tammy was dishing it out. I always ask when will Wipp comply with the New Mexico Environmental agency's order to shut the rooms 6 and &.7 It seems to piss em off and I enjoy that. Their faces drop and they get real serious.


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  • 52Rockwell

    Aww Shi—- . I was with My oldest and her kids . I think i had a better time. They live in Rapid city South Dakota. I plan to Load her up with Iodine Tabs before she leaves. Might even send em a cheap counter later. They have high CPM already. B-1's and who knows what else.


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