Officials: Leakage seen on “many” nuclear waste drums in WIPP underground — We think the seals have degraded — Public “should be concerned” about another explosion — 1,000s of radioactive drums now seen as too risky to move (VIDEO)

Published: June 13th, 2014 at 11:30 pm ET
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AP, June 11, 2014 (emphasis added): Scientists investigating a mysterious radiation leak at the federal government’s underground nuclear waste dump have identified five other potentially explosive containers of waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory that are being stored at a site in West Texas, New Mexico Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn told a legislative panel Tuesday. […] Asked if the public should be worried, Flynn said: “Every member of the community should be concerned. … But I don’t think they should be worried. I don’t think people should be panicked about another drum exploding because we required (the U.S. Department of Energy) to plan for that and have a system in place to protect the public.” […] The Department of Energy has dozens of the world’s finest scientists trying to identifying what type of reaction could have caused the leak, Flynn said after the hearing. But he estimated it would be months before a definitive cause is determined. Until then, Flynn said, it is hard to speculate on what if any action can be taken to finish getting the last of thousands of barrels of decades-old waste off the Los Alamos campus in northern New Mexico. […] given the uncertainty of what caused the radiation leak, transporting the waste now is seen as too risky. Flynn said it also remains unclear how long the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant will be closed or how long it will take the [WIPP] plant to seal off the rooms where more than 350 other barrels of suspect waste from Los Alamos are currently stored.

Northern New Mexico Citizens’ Advisory Board, May 21, 2014 (at 57:00 in):

  • Question: Have you all identified if it’s one drum, 20 drums, three drums? I’ve been hearing one drum a lot…
  • Dana Bryson, Deputy Manager for the Dept. of Energy’s Carlsbad Field Office (CBFO manages DOE’s WIPP program): Well, we have one drum, that is pretty clear. We have other possibilities — and if you look at the pictures… you’ll see weepage on many containers in the heat-affected area. What we’re postulating is that the seals have basically degraded. So those could be potential sources from that aspect as well.
  • Question: And could the denigration of any one particular drum have impacts on other adjacent drums?
  • Bryson: Absolutely.

Watch Bryson’s presentation here

Published: June 13th, 2014 at 11:30 pm ET
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