Dept. of Energy, Jan 21, 2015 (emphasis added): Roof Separation Highlights Bolting Priority — January 15 [we] discovered that a portion of the ceiling in the Panel 3 access drift had fallen… The roof fall… was estimated to be approximately 8’ long by 8’wide and 24” thick… no WIPP personnel were present at the time of the fall. The area where the fall occurred is also known to contain low levels of radioactive contamination… WIPP geotechnical inspections conducted in November 2014 identified seven areas… where access was restricted due to significant bolt loss… The area where the roof fall occurred was one of the seven locations…
AP, Jan 22, 2015: Ceiling Collapse At WIPP… ceiling at the federal government’s underground nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico has collapsed. The U.S. Energy Department’s Carlsbad Field Office… announced the finding Wednesday, saying it highlighted the need for workers to continue with roof bolting operations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.
Carlsbad Current Argus, Jan 22, 2015: WIPP discovers fallen roof… “The roof had already fallen before the geotechnical staff found it,” said Tim Runyon, WIPP recovery communications manager. The fallen piece of ceiling was found in the Panel 3 access drift… Runyon said that problems in the restricted areas of the underground were anticipated… According to the news release, during these inspections, seven areas in the underground were identified as restricted areas due to significant bolt loss… Jim Blankenhorn said at the January town hall that crews have removed over 300 damaged bolts… WIPP officials have stated that bolting is a priority in the recovery process to ensure safety in the underground.
Jim Blankenhorn, Nuclear Waste Partnership – URS, Jan 8, 2015: As many of you know, ground control has been a significant concern for all of us, in that we all realize that the mine itself is going to continue to creep with the pressures on the salt deposits… not bolting for a period of time potentially raises some concerns. We’ve been working pretty aggressively… As part of ongoing inspections of the ground conditions… they’ve identified some of the – not the backs… but the ribs, the actual sides of these drifts – we had one specific area that had a large section the was starting to come separate from the wall itself… so that was about a 200 foot area that we put new bolts in… We reported earlier that the areas right outside of panel 6 had lost a number of bolts and we needed to do bolting in that area… We’ve looked at all of the areas of the underground and the areas that are highlighted in orange are areas where we’ve seen a sufficient of bolts fail… we’re making these areas a priority… when we look at the safety tables that we have, the number of bolts per linear foot has started to exceed the tables in terms of our safety measures.
Published: January 23rd, 2015 at 2:30 pm ET