Paper: WIPP workers “not permitted to speak” — “Their jobs won’t ever be the same… will face new paradigm” — Concerns plutonium contaminated surrounding salt — Preparing for radiation levels so high, only robots can be used (VIDEO)

Published: April 22nd, 2014 at 1:18 pm ET


Albuquerque Journal News, Apr. 22, 2014: WIPP workers face big changes, Their jobs won’t ever be the same — Now that contamination has been discovered underground – although the extent is still unknown – the contractor that runs the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant says workers will face a new paradigm when they return to the site: more formality, tougher rules and more protective gear. […] those working underground will likely be doing their jobs in a more hazardous environment – or one where the risks have been made more evident – with new rules of engagement to protect them from exposure to radiation. […] plutonium and americium may have contaminated rock salt walls, mixed into dust on the floor, and clung to machinery and other equipment underground. If stirred or scuffed up, the radiation can become airborne and inhaled. […] NWP workers are not permitted to speak to the press, according to a spokesman.

KOAT, Apr. 20, 2014: “The more they went into panel 7, the more it started becoming more widespread,” said WIPP deputy recovery manager Tammy Reynolds. […] Inspectors plan to go back down and explore things further, but in case the radiation levels pose too much of a threat, robots will go underground instead. “Robot operators have already been to the WIPP site, received all of the training to go to the underground,” said Reynolds.

Carlsbad Current-Argus, Apr. 22, 2014: robots are on standby to support the recovery operations

Watch KOAT’s broadcast here

Published: April 22nd, 2014 at 1:18 pm ET


Related Posts

  1. AP: Crews retreat after nuclear material found at WIPP — Officials: Correct to turn back, contamination was increasing — Robots brought to site for radiation levels too high for humans — ‘Significant amount of information’ will be revealed to public in next few days (VIDEOS) April 18, 2014
  2. Alarm after ‘unusually high’ radiation levels at U.S. nuclear site — Gov’t: “We’ve never seen a level like we are seeing… I can’t tell you the amount” — Could be Plutonium — ‘Unclear’ how much radiation released — Unprecedented event (VIDEO) February 16, 2014
  3. Radiation levels spike 7,000% at US nuclear site — Coming from Plutonium, Uranium, Americium, or other alpha emitters — AP: Workers shelter in buildings — Official: Contaminated sample is so safe “it could have been… put in someone’s lunch bucket” (VIDEO) November 11, 2014
  4. Reuters: “Unsafe levels of radiation” were released during WIPP accident; More workers contaminated with plutonium — AP: Leak of radioactive material could’ve been “orders of magnitude larger”; Feds now testing air & soil 50 miles from site (AUDIO) March 31, 2014
  5. Reuters: Investigation suggests another drum with plutonium ruptured at US nuclear site — TV: “There are new concerns at WIPP that there could be another radiation leak” (VIDEO) September 19, 2014

208 comments to Paper: WIPP workers “not permitted to speak” — “Their jobs won’t ever be the same… will face new paradigm” — Concerns plutonium contaminated surrounding salt — Preparing for radiation levels so high, only robots can be used (VIDEO)

  • rogerthat

    pity radiation's not like bananas. you can see bananas. hey look, the carpark's turned into bananarama

  • rogerthat

    From Heart: ''But then what is the point,, of the nuclear testing the Marshall Islands?
    All the documentation of the contamination of the natives .. all the suffering …officially documented ..statistics done.
    Wasn't the the affirmative?

    – imho, the marshall islands experiment did not teach them anything they did not know already, learnt in the aftermath of hiroshima and nagasaki, not to mention nuclear test bombs all over the world. then when it became unfashionable to kill humans in endlessly repetitive experiments, they turned to animals. hello, dear beagle, this is your lucky day.

    • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

      Well.. this is true..
      I chose the Marshall Islands to ..mix a up a bit.
      Hiroshima and Nagasaki ..intentional kill…the Marshall Islands .. the supposed innocent contamination of the native testing.

      • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

        Yes ..and since they knew makes the tests on the Marshall Islands…redundant and cruel.

        • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar VanneV

          Agreed that all nuclear technology is cruel and inhumane. This is what they claim:

          So Many Nuclear Tests?
          “…Subsequent tests were used to test new weapon designs. Literally hundreds of designs were developed, to achieve various goals. Some weapons were designed to have a configurable yield, meaning the operator could configure them to produce a certain amount of explosive power. Some were designed to be fired out of artillery cannons, or submarines. Some were designed to be launched into space and then survive re-entry. Some were designed to be especially compact or lightweight, others designed to have a certain shape so that they could fit in a re-entry vehicle with the proper weight distribution. And so forth.

          ‘All of these designs required testing in order to achieve confidence that they would work properly. Remember that essentially all weapons were designed before the computer age, when predictive capabilities were fairly low compared to what we have now. And regardless of how much computer power you have, there's no substitute for experiment – dragging a bomb out into the Nevada desert, pointing a bunch of diagnostic equipment at it, and then watching what happens when it goes off.

          ‘As computers became more and more widely used, data from nuclear tests was used to calibrate the computer models used to design new weapons, and model the performance of existing ones.

          ‘None of this is unusual for the development of any class of device, weapon or otherwise…

    • Plutoniun killed 255 out of 255 beagles, and yet at WIPP they are trying to say that Plutonium is just as safe as any type of radiation. They say that WIPP workers would get more radiation from a banana than from inhaling plutonium.

      That may be true, but plutonium has a W(r) danger multiplier of 115,000 compared to run of the mill radiation.

  • sayonara kitty sayonara kitty

    i have to believe that there are some workers at wipp that understand that the truth is more important than a paycheck. i urge anyone who knows anything to come forward for humanity. we need heros.

    • We Not They Finally

      True, but it's hard to see that coming out of the WIPP town halls. I couldn't even get through the last one. Once Tammy Reynolds said that they got inside a certain panel and radiation was increasing, so they had to make "the difficult but wise decision" to turn back because the BATTERIES on their protective suits were running out? These are nuclear engineers with the most dangerous materials in the world, and they cannot even give their workers long-lasting BATTERIES?

      And what a BS story. They cannot get readings or answers or even LOOK, for lack of a long-running BATTERY? So where does she get HER paycheck from and why isn't she being fired?

      It was the most insulting, degrading display. Why weren't people screaming and yelling and throwing batteries at HER? But everyone seemed very polite….

      So much for "heroes." (Excuse extreme disgruntlement here.)

  • rogerthat

    We are all victims of a sick joke of cosmic proportions. For two generations the world went MAD, and people were taught to cower in fear while the superpowers built 100,000 nuclear bombs and warheads and the bomb makers and their cronies got rich. Then we were warned of the terrorist threat, and the dangers of dirty bombs, tiny little handmade devices using ''insecure'' medical devices stolen from hospitals and labs. But today, heigh ho, radiation is safe, like bananas really, you can come out from under the bed and under the desk, help yourself to a cesium snack, it's good for you. It's raining, and airborne nanoparticles from Fukushima are falling on you and everything around you, But don't worry, a little radiation is good for you, it will perk up your immune system, no need for an umbrella, suck it up, breathe deep, get close to nature. Makes you kinda humble and kinda proud to be a member of the human race.

    • jimbob jimbob

      They say it is safe but when I went for a bone scan a couple of years ago and got injected with radionuclides there was a sign above the toilet asking us gentlemen to sit down to pee as our urine was radioactive.

      If a little overspray was so dangerous for the cleaning crew how dangerous was it for me that had it injected into my veins.

      The results came back negative but my Dr. scheduled another bone scan for 6 months down the road, I cancelled.

      My point is if radiation is so harmless why do they have these warnings?

      By the way I ignored the sign, I am not a good person.

    • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

      🙂 Yes!

  • Gradius

    Is confirmed now. Every scientist handling (or had handling) nuclear stuff is a trully MAD scientist!

  • In Hawaii, as solar became "too popular" Governor abercrombie made up lies about solar and threatened audits on people doing solar. he then pushed for a $2B cable between some islands that would only cause efficiency losses, BUT IT WOULD ACHIEVE control by the powers that bribe. Funny thing, for the $2B cost of the cable, EVERY single house in the island chain could have been converted to 100% solar. makes you say hmmmmm

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Whining about a new paradigm.
    Why? They have to get in there and work with the garbage they deal with?
    What new paradigm?
    One ..of the risk of lethal radiation exposure daily?
    It's very hard to have empathy ..when the very same are hiding the dangers of the situation from the public.

    It's hard to care.
    Damn hard to care…

    • Excellently said Heart

      They are keeping quiet about the real conditions that contrinbuted to this accident. They are accepting hushmoney as full wages for no work.

      they allow their neighbors to be poisoned without fessing up themselves.

      Sorry WIPPers, find a different way to feed your families. This is serious stuff.

  • jump-ball jump-ball

    WIPP won't now face getting what URS has in mind for Sellafield = another 800K cubic meters of 'low-level' radioactive waste in above ground storage on a cliff 300 feet from the coast, estimated by the British Environment Agency to be safe from coastal erosion for "a few hundred to a few thousand years from now".

    Don't tell that to people where I come from: 135 years ago, as historic city maps and photos show, the CA coastal town of Encinitas where I learned to surf, near what every resident assumes is a 10,000 plus year old beach, had TWO MORE CITY BLOCKS, 5th and 6th Streets, extending 600 feet west of the current cliffs over what is now the ocean, and subsequently lost to erosion.

    Surf may be up, but the cliffs are coming down:

  • rogerthat

    One of these days people will wake up to the fact that atoms for peace will kill the world as surely as any nuclear war. All those weapons have been made obsolete by 500 nuclear power plants and their spent fuel pools. All the radiation in all these plants and spent fuel pools will sooner or later enter the wider environment and this planet will be dead as a doornail with not a shot fired. In 60 years, no safe repository has been found. Science has not found a way to permanently contain nuclear waste. This stuff is here with us forever, folks, and accidents like fukushima and chernobyl and wipp and hanford and the dozens of other meltdowns and ''events'' in the past 50 years will in due course spread it around. There's more than enough for all. We'll be up to our eyeballs in bananas.

  • WindorSolarPlease

    WIPP workers “not permitted to speak”

    Not permitted, that's funny. What do they think will happen when people start seeing that this effects of their loved ones and themselves. How long do they think they will be quiet?

    Eventually the truth will come out. You can't hide it under the carpet. My advice, tell the truth. Being honest allows you to sleep at night, to look at your kids, and look in the mirror.

    You teach your kids to tell the truth, teach by example. Eventually, they will read all about what was hid.

    • We Not They Finally

      When people get assaulted by guns or knives, the response is outrage. When they get bushwhacked by illness, randomly, sporadically, in grave diagnoses in private in their doctors' offices, the response is more often terror.

      It's demonic. Except when SOMEONE speaks, and SOMEONE organizes, and SOMEONE risks all, and SOMEONE has a loud enough voice.

      We all want that "someone" to show up. But that area was chosen for WIPP in the first place partly because the people there are so impoverished and disadvantaged. Not ground zero for a revolution, to say the least. Though we can still hope, pray, dream.

      • WindorSolarPlease

        Hi We Not They Finally

        I agree that, people get outrage at "seeing" violence. Unfortunately for us, people can't see radiation.
        If they can't see it, then it must not be true.

        The results of radiation exposure can take awhile to show it's ugly head, then it can be blamed for something else.

        I agree, when people do shout the truth, it can wake up more and more people.

        We need an army of someone's, not just someone telling the truth. Even though one person still makes a difference.

        The ones who have direct knowledge and people with clout are the ones who probably can make the biggest noise.

        Don't discount the ones who are challenged with being impoverished and disadvantaged, they are use to fighting the everyday struggles.

        I don't think anyone would have trouble with fighting for the truth, if they saw their loved ones hurting from this, and this disaster has the potential of this.

        I do believe they don't want anyone to see the workers dropping from this. Not a good time to be a robot.

  • FXofTruth

    WIPP workers “not permitted to speak"….yes, please die quietly.
    You workers will only depress and confuse the Public with facts. Especially since the management has been having the news media lie and act dazed & confused.

    With all the radiation spewing from Japan's meltdowns and the 430 constantly leaking nuclear plants around the World, this WIPP travesty is making the planet into a deadly contaminated radioactive pig sty.

    With the pigs running the sty of contaminated radiation, cancers are rampaging while healthcare professionals are not permitted to speak, too!

    So everyone is not permitted to speak about the big ugly, smelly, dangerous elephant crapping in the room?

    I think the Constitution "permits" speaking about everything in any way you want to. If the workers listen to the corporate jackoffs telling them what to do to protect the corporation's "spotless image" then the workers are as stupid as management thinks they are.

  • Seraphine Seraphine

    Bob McQuinn, new president/project manager of WIPP operator: “Now we’re going to have to wear protective equipment – coveralls, shoe covers and gloves – to make sure contamination doesn’t get on us and respirators so it doesn’t get in us."

    Was I alone in being terrified by this statement?

    • We Not They Finally

      No, you're not alone. The hubris, ignorance, incompetence, callousness, is beyond the pall. Then at the last town hall, the WIPP spokeswoman, Tammy Reynolds, said that the reason they couldn't explore the contaminated areas was for lack of long-running batteries in the workers' radiation protection suits??!!

      So much for the "will last for 250,000 years" fantasy. They could not get their act together for fifteen minutes.

    • melting mermaid melting mermaid

      Seraphine, absolutely terrifying, the incompetence and dishonesty of the nuclear industry boggles the mind.

    • WindorSolarPlease

      Exactly Seraphine..No you are not alone..

      So it doesn't get in us, "NOW"
      That gave me the chills. They know others are hurt by this.

      All anyone has to do is be out in the open and if a particle is breathed in, it will grab a horrible hold on you.

      Everyone breathes no matter how much money or clout you have.

  • jimbob jimbob

    Please everyone stop disparaging pigs, they are very intelligent animals.

    The worst animals on this planets are human beings, it is not even close!

    A cabal of pigs have never created a nuclear power plant or used depleted uranium ammunition in a phony war.

    I think to call a person a pig should be considered a complement, but to call a pig a human would be an insult to the pig.

    I used to be a supporter of Nuclear Power, I was invested in Uranium mines, I am ashamed of that now.

    Back on topic WIPP needs to be shut down for further radiological transfers but now the problem becomes what do we do with the crap that is already there?

    I think it is much like Fukushima, we have this situation and we have no idea how to deal with it.

  • rogerthat

    heart, on the subject of the marshall islands: there has been some pretty revealing stuff done, a documentary or two and some published material. i think it's worth reviving to inform and remind people, in particular of the scientific mindset at the time, which included viewing the inhabitants of the islands as savages and of no account, and included glee at the spectacular results.

  • mt1000

    WIPP meeting:
    Wednesday, April 23 – Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway and DOE will co-host a weekly town hall meeting featuring updates on WIPP recovery activities. The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. Location: Carlsbad City Council Chambers, 101 N. Halagueno

  • earthsmith earthsmith

    They are laughing just like they always did. Get the public to fund it, maybe even get some bleeding hearts in on the act to make it look legit. Then roll on over to politician/lobbyist and stuff those we look the other way ordinances pockets full of cash. If the people were to wake up it would have happened already But they will shuffle back to their T.V. and microwave. I have said it before….the masses will do nothing until the barrel of the gun is in their face…….that is the only time they open,their eyes and ears but you can definitely forget about the brain< that is already occupied by a host.

  • Sol Man

    The residents of Carlsbad, the workers, all of those downwind from the 2/14 event (and on-going), the attendees to the meetings; all will make possible study groups for the National Cancer Institute.

  • pb_praha pb_praha

    WIPP Recovery Progress, in jpeg form, from their site, what's with the last but one item..

    "Clean soot and return Waste Handling Shaft to operational status"


    Soot? in the Waste Handling Shaft?
    How'd that get there?

    <a href="">cute clipboard image here</a>

      • pb_praha pb_praha

        Thanks Stock,

        I swear i used the right markup… 😉

        While we are at it, the page also says :
        "remote-handled waste can have a dose rate up to 1,000 rem per hour"

        … or about 10 Sieverts per hour

        Isn't that rather hot for low level waste?


        • nedlifromvermont

          I would say so … lethal dose for 100% of population exposed in one hour …

          maybe remote-handled waste, but not low level at all.

          What say the geniuses at MIT's nuclear fuels project who supported WIPP so glowingly, on TV, right after 3/11?? … Charles Forsberg was the name … I remember being incensed by his self-dealing logic … "The workers at WIPP are so happy to have 'job security' in this waste handling business" … guess what he meant was the workers would have the 'security' from wondering how they were going to spend their retirement years …


          Come on WIPPERS …. Is that how you really feel?

  • haizedustrium-1234 haizedustrium-1234

    ……..and then there was robot chelating treatment……
    Make room 1038972p for contaminated robots.

  • I would love to see this.

    I wonder what would happen if a contaminated worker showed up to the Carlsbad Town Hall meeting?

    Would they literally gag them on camera, cuff them and cart them away to jail? Shoot them maybe?


  • razzz razzz

    Interesting how WIPP officials forge ahead without waiting for test results or even replacing radioactive contaminated filters. No one is dropping dead of radiation poisoning so working condition are good. Future generation being exposed to DNA alterations are of no concern in the present time.

    So far, it is already admitted that the site can no longer be normally worked previous to the radioactive release. Now the concern is containment or without containment, mitigating exposure rates to workers. All sounds very expensive while ignoring worker's well being.

    I like it when the talk about no radioactivity found in the staging area but within a thousand feet they need harden robots to explore or "I have been out to the site many times since the radioactive release and have tested negative for internal radionuclides." You can always see them do a double take when making such asinine statements while they train laymen to become radiological experts to even handle WIPP's filters (hold my beer and I will change out those hot filters, no problem).

    Now it is to the point of 'shut up' or you will be fired, that will be spun into some excuse of being for worker's privacy rights and protection sans whistleblowers. Everything is fine, just need robots to do the work from now on. You can see how well Daiichi functions using robots, dead stop, frozen in time to hot to remove and in need of a radioactive dump parking place.

  • GQR2

    Link for this afternoon's WIPP Townhall @ 5:30 MST

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    They're talking ..I don't think they know the microphones are on..

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Tammy showing the suits AGAIN..

  • 52Rockwell

    Im in there with you Heart of the Rose .. Russell Gene

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Talk about safety issues.
    What a dump…

  • 52Rockwell

    What I heard was we had a nuclear emergency , and nobody knew what to do or took any effective action. Total incompetence.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose


  • jimbob jimbob

    I can see it but I have no audio.

    Anyone else have this problem?

  • 52Rockwell

    Also the little blurb about not trying to place blame ,but to take remedial steps (paraphrased). By God, there should be investigation into cause,and who dropped the ball,and heads should roll. They kept all the screw ups that were in charge during the accident, and hired a whole additional crew of managers.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    More managers…pip, pip.

  • 52Rockwell

    The Beatings will continue until Moral improves .

  • 52Rockwell

    I bet Bob took the whole managerial crew out to Dairy Queen after the meeting for Banana Splits.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Something like that ..K-Bob's Steak House.

  • URS Executive bonuses just went up, the need for "enhanced" everything just paved the way for more graft, kickbacks and money laundering.
    watch the urs stock fall, then recover plus a factor of 100.

    just like awarding contracts to any public/private partnership the only reason to exist is to get more expensive.

    there should be public hangings and floggings for such corruption but the roman systems of extortion require bigger budgets, graft and accidents to justify the skimming and cannibalism.

    I was watching the town hall and those bastards had no intention of waiting for questions about how much extra everything will cost and nothing about how many will pay locally by inhaling the nuclearfeces and get fukushima'd in a ditch they will have to buy.

  • razzz razzz

    The meeting and talking of zombies, no one understands them except other zombies.

    In two months time there will be a report issued on how to proceed with continued operations of the radioactive underground dump. Maybe by that time they will have changed out the world class radioactive contaminated filters along with soot which within itself is a carcinogen.

    Any other time in private industry, there would be a Congressional investigation with the mine closed for years and fines being levied left and right but here you have unlimited taxpayer funds to get a report out in two months to make the mine operational. Full speed not ahead but backwards. Radiation doesn't respond to money, ask Japan. WIPP (authorities) gets a free pass and can do no wrong and they act like it with Congress's blessings.

    Sending work teams on outings to Hanford and Savannah does what exactly? Teach the utter futility of nuke dumping while risking more overexposure to fallout? Highlight the stupidity of working in a radioactive enclosed area?

    • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

      Something about..almost being able to see it but not quite.
      Pictures are coming.. showing areas that are almost the area ..but not quite.

    • bo bo

      Wyka seemed very nervous talking

      • GQR2

        He may be the last honest man. He reminded me of a gum shoe from the 40's. His eyes must have bugged out a lot of times during the writing of the report. It is unbelievable has lax the place was and the damage that has been done. It seems like they are laying the ground work to close WIPP,no matter how much they love it. After this however long process,all options weighed some back room deals done they will close the place. Seal it and accept no more waste that process alone will take years. Either way,how do you mitigate down in that dump? As said above the cost of the level three suits alone on a daily basis is prohibitive. Time will tell. Wyka will be good to watch. And how about all those new managers? What a racket they have to do remedial work down there. The tax payers should be furious.

        • GQR2

          * ugh typos level B suits and How lax the place has been. They just handled the stuff like it was so much junk. I wonder if they have had to test every underground worker and just haven't mentioned that to the public. There's reasons those workers are gagged and hopefully some of them will speak out.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    A need for nuclear formality?
    The wordage..lolol.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Nuclear formality.
    I certainly suggest it ..for a first date lasting ..24,000 years.

  • Mack Mack


    >> "the radioactive waste stored at WIPP will remain dangerous until at least the year 12006"

    "Neither WIPP, nor the proposed Yucca Mountain site in Nevada, are 'ideal'…"Both sites were picked for political, not technical, reasons, so it is not surprising that they are inadequate" says Don Hancock

    >> WIPP is surrounded by "more than 100 operating oil and natural gas wells within a mile of the boundary" says Don Hancock, and there's fracking nearby.

    >> Plutonium from WIPP was detected a half mile away at a DOE field office

    Read the comments on this good WIPP article:

  • mt1000

    Mayor is a no show at the Wed. meeting …. hmmmm….

  • yohananw

    Any heavy accident is an unfortunate reminder of the importance of safety culture and hazard management. The tragic ferry accident in South Korea and the large loss of life last week reportedly were caused by novice steering and initially inappropriate emergency response. In contrast the cause and effect of the WIPP disaster are not yet understood. Radioactivity is not perceived nor easily measured. Plutonium outings make for insidious injuries, covert impacts, over lifetimes and millenia. Open data, free information, public oversight, safety culture and whistleblower protection must be clear mandated givens in nuclear energy.

  • razzz razzz

    Look in the report tomorrow for the timeline of when the radioactive release set the underground monitors off until the time the filters were actually filtering. Big gap between reporting up the chain of command about the radioactive leaks until there was a callback (because people's sleep schedules might have been interrupted). I know WIPP certainly didn't bother to officially report in a timely fashion the radiological event to proper authorities i.e. NRC, IAEA, Washingtion, EPA, in fact the EPA now shows up saying everything is fine as far as they are concerned after the site is finally closed and sealed up because we don't care about radioactive releases during normally working hours, in fact the EPA showed up after the fallout settled out and/or blew away to state testing taken a month after the event is within limits not counting the results they haven't received back as of yet.

    Anyway lets gather the facts and discount what we have learned so WIPP can continue operating after a few obligatory upgrades now that WIPP is a biological and radioactive hazard and must operate under a new set of guidelines and after some superficial retraining.

    The radioactive dump has morphed into a hazardous site. A needless or necessary condition depending on what side of the nuclear fence you are on.

    It was mentioned more than 100 employees were tested for radioactive contamination. Civilian testing was voluntary and results will only be released as group analysis.