BBC, Mar 5, 2014: Radiation leak at America’s only nuclear waste repository threatens the future of waste storage [...] On the road into the city, derricks pump oil from deep in the Earth. [...]
Interview with WIPP expert Don Hancock of Southwest Research and Information Center, Nuclear Hotseat with Libbe HaLevy, Feb. 25, 2014 (at 27:00 in):
- Don Hancock, Southwest Research and Information Center: Starting in 1999, only 4 of the 7 rooms were actually used because of the concern of the potential of a roof collapse [...] Can the ceiling collapse, and fall on workers or drums and cause a release? Yes, that clearly can happen. That’s different than saying we know that that’s what happened [...]
- Libbe HaLevy, host: Sandia National Labs [...] determined that there was a pressurized brine reservoir underlying as much as 80% of the WIPP site. Might seepage or some kind of erosion from this brine reservoir have contributed to the radiation leak?
- Hancock: [...] WIPP 12 was drilled within the bounds of the WIPP site a mile north of where the waste currently is being placed, in 1981, to demonstrate whether there was brine there or not. And guess what? It struck pressurized brine that flowed to the surface for 4 days [...] There is also proven reserves of oil and natural gas directly underneath where the waste is. So the idea that the waste could get out either because in the future people drill into it or there’s some kind of a breach from pressurized brine, those things are possible. Another thing that could happen is that there are more than 100 operating oil and natural gas wells within a mile of the boundary of the WIPP site, today as we speak, and there are more all the time. This is a very active oil and gas production area. So when things like fracking start happening around the WIPP site, could there be problems caused by fracking? The answer to that is yes, there are lots of things that could happen. Whether any of these have happened yet or whether they are things that could just happen in the future, as far as we know, they are just things that could happen in the future.
KOAT, Feb. 27, 2014: Even those who do not work in the facility, but in the area, are worried […] some oil field workers in the area wondering [...] “If they’re not supposed to be at work, and we’re working in this area, should we even be going down 128? What’s the safe distance that we should stay away?”
Dr. David Snow, PhD, Engineering Science at University of California-Berkeley, reviews subsidence issues at the WIPP site along with brine and oilfield-related risks in the paper ‘UNSAFE RADWASTE DISPOSAL AT WIPP‘.
Wikipedia: [Los Angeles' Baldwin Hills dam failure] remains the subject of continuing interest. [...] Authoritative Harvard engineer Karl Terzaghi whose ideas had long dominated [...] the engineering science of soil mechanics [...] made significant contributions to understanding subsidence in oilfields. [...] A meticulously documented study [pointed] out various connections between oilfield operations in the Inglewood field and ground disturbances [...]
Published: March 6th, 2014 at 6:32 pm ET