Gov’t Report: Nuclear waste was up to 1,600°F during WIPP plutonium release — Concern that heat ‘chemically or physically changed’ contents of other drums — Increased hazard of spontaneous reaction… may have already occurred — Over 50 drums at risk (VIDEO)

Published: July 13th, 2014 at 1:55 am ET
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Evaluation of the Effect of Elevated Temperatures on the Waste Containers in [the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant's] Room 7 of Panel 7 to Determine if an Additional Reaction Hazard Has Been Introduced, Los Alamos National Laboratory, June 18, 2014 (emphasis added): Unreacted drums of nitrate salt waste stream, LAMIN02-V.001, continue to pose a potential reaction hazard in Room 7. [...] at least one nitrate salt bearing waste container from [LANL] is breached [...] LANL-CO was [...] to determine if the heat has chemically or physically changed the waste and introduced a reaction hazard causing the waste to spontaneously combust, self-heat, autoignite, or explode. [...] Based on the photographic evidence of the color of the steel on the breached LANL drum, a small area of the drum reached a minimum temperature of 340°C [644°F]. [...] The damage to container gaskets, polypropylene backfill bags, shrink wrap, and slip sheets indicate a room wide temperature sufficient to cause the polymers in these items to flow or melt [...] Based solely on the photographic information it appears that some surfaces on the LANL drum may have reached temperatures of up to 700-870°C [1598°F] and the waste in a large portion of the room reached temperatures up to 170°C to 230°C [446°F].

Los Alamos National Laboratory: Waste Stream LA-MIN02-V.001 [...] represents continued risk of a reaction hazard. [...] fifty-five (55) containers [...] in Room 7 contain nitrate salts, an oxidizer, mixed with [...] kitty litter [...] Because of the mixture of organics (fuel) and nitrate salts (oxidizer) in these drums they continue to pose a potential hazard. [...] 170-230°C temperatures likely experienced by some of the other LA-MIN02-V.001 drums may have dried out some of the unreacted oxidizer-organic mixtures increasing their potential for spontaneous reaction. This dehydration of the fuel-oxidizer mixtures caused by the heating of the drums is recognized as a condition known to increase the potential for reaction. Reactions may have occurred within some of these drums at levels insufficient to lead to detectable visible evidence.

WIPP town hall, July 10, 2014 (at 1:00:15 in):

  • Online Question: About the breached drum, are we going to go in and remove that drum out of the room?
  • Tammy Reynolds, Deputy Recovery Manager: We do not currently have any plans to move the drums out of panel 7 […] It doesn’t seem feasible to have to go in and put workers in a position to have to deal with those level of hazards.

Watch the July 10, 2014 WIPP town hall here

Published: July 13th, 2014 at 1:55 am ET
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537 comments

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