Top Science Journal: “Time bombs” at WIPP nuclear site? “High alert over risk of new explosions” in hundreds of plutonium-contaminated drums — AP: 4 years may be needed just to seal off area where drums stored — Experts go down to check if ground ‘still stable’ (VIDEO)

Published: May 31st, 2014 at 2:30 pm ET


Nature, May 28, 2014: Nuclear-waste facility on high alert over risk of new explosions — US repository scrambles to seal off barrels […] Time bombs may be ticking at the United States’ only deep geological repository for nuclear waste. US authorities concluded last week that at least 368 drums of waste at the site could be susceptible to the chemical reaction suspected to have caused a drum to rupture there in February. That accident caused radioactive material to spill into the repository and leak into the environment above ground. […] To mitigate the threat of further exploding drums, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) in Santa Fe issued an order on 20 May giving the US Department of Energy […] until 30 May to come up with a plan to “expedite” the sealing of panel 6 and part of panel 7. [A reaction] blew the lid off of the container [an official cautioned,] “It is not yet known how, or if, the reaction created the rupture in the drum(s)” […] The DOE added that current assumptions and precautions about the hazards of operating the WIPP are being “evaluated and revised”.

AP, May 31, 2014: Feds say it could take years […] to seal off hundreds of potentially dangerous containers at its troubled underground nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico, the U.S. Department of Energy said in a filing Friday. […] the department gave broad ranges that indicate it could take a minimum of about 100 work weeks — and possibly twice that long — to secure the rooms at the now-shuttered plant where more than 350 containers of toxic waste from decades of building nuclear bombs at Los Alamos National Laboratory is stored. […] A Department of Energy spokeswoman declined to comment on the estimated time frame […] A canister shipped from Los Alamos to the Waste Isolation Pilot Project has been linked to the [Feb 14, 2014] release, and officials are investigating whether hundreds of other barrels from Los Alamos that are currently stored at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Los Alamos and in West Texas are at risk of releasing radiation. […] There are still 57 barrels on the campus, which officials have repacked into special containers and are now storing under a dome with 24-hour monitoring and fire-protection systems.

DOE WIPP UPDATE (pdf), May 29, 2014: Geotechnical experts also conducted underground inspections at several locations to make sure the ground was still stable.

Watch the KOB broadcast here

Published: May 31st, 2014 at 2:30 pm ET


Related Posts

  1. AP: Los Alamos officials now confirming that drums of plutonium-contaminated waste are stored above ground at ‘Area G’ June 28, 2011
  2. Report: Up to 30,000 drums of plutonium-contaminated waste stored in fabric tents above ground at Los Alamos dumpsite — Lab declines to comment June 27, 2011
  3. Experts: Gov’t may never stabilize hundreds of explosive drums of radioactive waste stored at WIPP — Nuclear dump now at risk of closing permanently — Ruined for good by kitty litter? (AUDIO) May 23, 2014
  4. 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) June 13, 2014
  5. “Patented explosives” reported inside plutonium waste drums at US nuclear facility — TV: So volatile, experts comparing it to ‘bomb’ — Official: I’m appalled we weren’t told about real and present danger — Over 5,000 drums a threat — Invisible reactions may have already occurred (VIDEO) November 17, 2014

253 comments to Top Science Journal: “Time bombs” at WIPP nuclear site? “High alert over risk of new explosions” in hundreds of plutonium-contaminated drums — AP: 4 years may be needed just to seal off area where drums stored — Experts go down to check if ground ‘still stable’ (VIDEO)

  • weegokiburi weegokiburi

    Apologies for bad language

  • West Aussie West Aussie

    I'm glad to know that there is no grand conspiracy to reduce and enslave the human race. I was worried for a while, thinking that there could be an elite powerful cabal of wealthy ethnics controlling the affairs of the planet, from beyond the grave, so to speak. Had me jittery for a while. But it's OK, now I realize it's just people being stupid morons. It's so much easier when you're told to realize that all these scientists and technocrats are just really, really, dribblingly demented and can't be trusted with dangerous technology.
    But that can't be right! Them's is smarter people than that!
    So it must be the politicians who make these freaking ridiculous decisions to plonk these things where they are. 'cos they're just soooo stupid, stupid, stupid. That's how they got there positions in politics; By being utterly, raving, stupid. That's it! They're all just stupid, dumb, wallies, with no non-stupid in them, eh!?
    Pol Pot was an intellectual giant compared to these people. At least he said to the world I'm killing my own people, it's necessary for what I believe to be the greater good. He didn't do it out of stupidity like our politicians,….riiight?

    'Build em on fault lines. Build em by the sea. Run them past their use by date and leave the maintenance to me.
    Yeah, those politicians are just so dumb. Dumb as can be. How could they ever be smart enough to engage in conspiracy?'

    • bo bo

      Mornin' WA
      They're so unbelievably dumb !!!!!
      And yet – to make matters worse – they still attempt to engage in conspiracy, like kids inside a clubhouse up on a tree 🙁

      • West Aussie West Aussie

        Hi bo, thanks. It's actually late evening over here.
        Borrowed your line, bo. Hope you don't mind.

        'Like kids in a clubhouse, up on a tree. Follow all the money, interest rates and fees.
        Then you'll find the culprits. Retro-fitting the Libor rate. Printing money for free.
        Planning out tomorrow, leasing out next year.
        "Get in now while rates are low, and you can't see what's up my sleeve!"
        Maps and squares are folded, crisscross the floor to door.
        Let's escape this dreadful trap of useless misanthropy!'

  • jec jec

    Dumb worldwide. Hiding radiation coming from a dump site in Europe:

    Just like the DOE/EPA..LOTS of finger pointing.but bottomline..a coverup. Just like WIPP, Los Alamos, Hanford Wa..and all the nuclear sites world wide.

  • rogerthat

    '''Build em on fault lines. Build em by the sea. Run them past their use by date and leave the maintenance to me.''

    – catchy stuff, West Aussie

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    WIPP begins filter change-out process as it lays out short-term plans
    June 1 2014

    "Since a 14 February radiation release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP), a deep geological repository for nuclear waste of military origin, exhaust air has passed through high-efficiency particulate air filters. On 30 May workers began to test ventilation fans in preparation to change the filters. This activity will take several weeks and will prevent any workers from being able to enter the shut-down repository to try to determine what caused the release."

    They even check it out for weeks are hey going to monitor the conditions of the other materials?

    • rogerthat

      ''On 30 May workers began to test ventilation fans in preparation to change the filters. This activity will take several weeks''

      Tom: Wow, several weeks! Why so long?
      Dick: Because the shtf, i think.
      Harry: Yep, i've been given this dirty big scraper, promised lots of overtime because it's slow work in this protective suit, that is some hot shit.

      Jokes aside, do the fans blow air past the filters or suck air through the filters? If the fans come before the filters, they may be quite contaminated? I have no idea, just asking.

      What prompted the check of the ventilation fans? Is it a regular scheduled check? Have these fans been running for 30 years?

      I can understand about the need to change the filters – they are clogged up with all the information they have filtered out; most efficient, only 0.3 per cent escapes.

      • Radio Radio

        Rogerthat says – "I can understand about the need to change the filters – they are clogged up with all the information they have filtered out; most efficient, only 0.3 per cent escapes."

        Brilliant line!

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Typo..They "CAN'T" check it out for weeks.

  • dodge

    Ironic – we need long term "safe" storage. Since we can't agree – we continually build dangerous amounts in temporary storage. We are learning, that one "super site" is to dangerous to maintain and relatively insure safety. Then we approve site renewals (we don't know how to decommission safely), plan new construction, and deny the data which shows the dangers from past accidents. We proudly proclaim this as safe/clean/cheap energy. While the industry is proving to be dangerous (threatening global disaster) dirty (increasing health risks from ever greater "low level" background radiation) and so expensive we can't begin to pay for the damage already done nor get governments to locate and fund areas for permanent storage of spent fuel and nuclear contamination. What a mess we have made. Remember those signs in the stores… Beautiful to look at, Delightful to hold, You break it, Brother it's SOLD. Friends, we've broken it – but rebelling against paying for it. Someday this bill is coming due.

    • rogerthat

      ''Finally……atom gets into biosphere and ends up in YOU!''

      – It's known as multiskilling: This unit of labor is now also a temporary nuclear storage facility; inefficient, i grant you, but there are 7 billion of them and some even last for more than 100 years. Breathe deep, lads and lasses. Here, read this scientific study – they call it hormesis and say it's good for you, maybe…

      • West Aussie West Aussie

        Passive smoking is considered deadly by many governments, like Australia's, yet being irradiated by man-made radionuclide contamination in the environment is considered 'beneficial' by the same governments?
        The phrase 'two-faced hypocrites' does tend to pop into my mind.

    • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

      Horrible jobs program! 🙁

  • Nick

    WIPP to send experts deep into the failed site to check geological conditions.

    Here's what they'll find……

    A mess.

    They will be hard pressed to report on fractures in the salt bed.

    They will, to their utter horror, realize WIPP was a dumb idea.

    They will come back to the surface and run like hell.

  • 富岡_Blue_Heron 富岡_Blue_Heron

    I don't know if this was posted elsewhere, but there is an interesting comment to this KRQE news item from last week. I think the author is suggesting that the Chairman Meows behind the Kitty Litter theory should deliver or quit the litter box.

  • Seeker

    @ Dr Good Heart
    Thanks for your kind response; there is a lot of data accessible now. The TRAP system is no longer available at the site it was being sold at. I have contacted NuWater directly for an email response.

    I found this in my online wanderings, for everyone's reassurance (NOT):
    DOE Transcript re Fukushima, for Congressional Hearing,3/16/11, "The American people should have full confidence that the United States has rigorous safety regulations in place to ensure that our nuclear power is generated safely and responsibly. Information is still coming in about the events unfolding in Japan, but the Administration is committed to learning from Japan's experience as we work to continue to strengthen America's nuclear industry."
    See also, the ONLY DOE update, in 2012:

  • rogerthat

    ''Information is still coming in about the events unfolding in Japan''

    – One of those timeless lines that will live on for a long time. A long, long time. A long, long, long time. Useful for centuries, for eons.

  • razzz razzz

    SimplyInfo has lot on Fukus and WIPP. They have an article on how Plutonium was prepared and packaged for WIPP burial. Normally Plutonium was mixed with vermiculite (sorta mix of clay and mica) and heated to make a ceramic sized shape to fit a container that's goes inside special dual lined barrels. Then the switch to organic (wheat?) based material that resulted in making little Plutonium cakes where they can react and decay which clay doesn't decay.

    "Vermiculite: Is a 2:1 clay, meaning it has 2 tetrahedral sheets for every one octahedral sheet. It is a limited expansion clay with a medium shrink-swell capacity. Vermiculite has a high cation exchange capacity at 100-150 meq/100 g. Vermiculite clays are weathered micas in which the potassium ions between the molecular sheets are replaced by magnesium and iron ions."

    WIPP is not suppose to be used to bury concentrated Plutonium so they get around that by diluting it into a form.

  • zogerke zogerke

    Did anyone already post from bobby1's blog? On wipp?

  • razzz razzz

    zogerke: That link was a good read. Nobody knows anything. Where the waste came from, what's in the waste, how many containers are there to deal with. Who gave final approval or bothered to followup on change order requests?

    Looks to me like the Green agenda trumped basic science.

    • zogerke zogerke

      I don't quite believe it, the whole kitty litter thing. It is too expensive. Why use something more expensive. Or else…
      Does the person people who own that wheat litter also make money off of WIPP contracts?
      Or else the whole scenario does not sound plausible……or is it only the consumer who pays like double for wheat based litter than clay? Why would they double their costs? Maybe someone can dig further.

      • Radio Radio

        I agree. Unless Monsanto had a bunch of wheat europe refused to buy and made a quick sell to he government. $ months in and still no evidence any chemical reaction occurred, but, lots of evidence tat DOE, WIPPS, Los Alamos, etc, failed to do their jobs, didn't vent barrels, didn't have the right filters, didn't store properly. Also, Hanford has been trying to arrive at a glassification process for decades for nuclear waste suspended in liquid chemicals for storage once upon a time, and until it is dry, it remains volatile. They can't successfully dry it without it exploding so they evaporate it slowly. Perhaps someone decided to do a little science experiment down there in Los Alamos to glassify their nuclear waste, much of it the same materials as Hanford's but perhaps less fluids in the mix. If the glassification was not 100% complete and ANY liquid moved or materials absorbed from, oh say, water leaking in the salt mine, then an explosion would be very possible. Not revealing this experiment would explain why a nameless someone okayed the wheat over the clay.

        • Radio Radio

          Of course, in such a case, even use of the usual clay packing would not prevent an explosion. Wheat might chemically react, but, it would join an already started reaction and not be the cause. Given this, i think the kitty litter becomes a handy ruse, yet not one anybody feels like putting their whole weight behind since it could easily be proven a reach. I think that disinformation campaigners have learned that it is far more effective to NOT nail down your handy alternate hypothesis too neatly or else it can be countered. Better to let it be plausible but remain intangible. Never answer questions about it directly, and if you must, make your answers more and more complicated, which has the effect of making the campaigner sound smart and the questioners stupid. We are now down to esoteric chemical reactions that are one in a million from emails which neatly covers every misdeed and failure of several agencies, businesses, workers and public leaders. Blame it on those "unreasonable" people, the Greens, who wrongly think saving life on this planet is more important than exploiting it to extinction. What better counter-intel is there? None.

    • zogerke zogerke

      Maybe the answer is above, razz, and you posted it.

    • Radio Radio

      Use of wheat is NOT a Green agenda. There is nothing environmentally good about today's water hogging, pesticide/herbicide laden, GMO wheat. Ecology is about supporting diversity of life, yours and mine included. This wheat is probably Monsanto wheat and they made a good profit getting rid of it to the government. Very likely they couldn't sell it overseas since most countries are waking up to the cancer causing agents from the release of pesticides within the digestive tract and don't want it. That means lots of excess US wheat harvests and a need for a market. That means packing agent in nuclear storage materials. Whoever's wheat this is, there is still no evidence that a chemical reaction happened and most especially, SHOULD NOT occur without a leak first being evident. It should not have an inert dry reaction from over desiccation as has been claimed at Los Alamos. In fact, desiccation would be necessary for stability. The mixing would be the explosive time. Once dry, the chemical reaction would come after a liquid leak into such material, and cause the leak according to Arnie. Maybe he's wrong but, i tend to think he has less need to blame environmentalists and wheat for everyone failing to do their jobs like vent barrels in a timely manner, fit filters, wear radiation monitors, have a working alert system, and not release nuke fumes over a town.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    What can I say ..I'm not into volatile chemicals.

    Section 7:
    Kolorsafe the liquid acid neutralizer is stored above 150 F …causes the containers to bulge.

    Section 13: The product itself is considered non-hazardous. Once, used it takes on the characteristics of the chemical(s) used with ..dispose of accordingly.

    Flash point : not tested
    Flammability limits: not tested
    Auto-ignition temperature: not tested

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    This along with the nitrates on the material itself ..along with Conca's beloved 'kitty litter'…the interaction of the two ..the catalyst for heat production…
    My, my..

  • Nick

    How did we get to a point in human history when we make things that go boom unintentionally?

    I understand the desire for war profiteers to keep us all scared and well stocked in intentional explosive devices.

    Not the goofs

    • Yah der Eh! Hilarious!

      "if they want to" that is all that is required…..

      • rogerthat

        ''one drum solemnly exhilarated adult and leaked. It was a tiny recover of deviation that did not, and will not, mistreat anyone or have any environmental consequence.''

        – through it all, the script lives on. have to say, though, i greatly prefer this version!!

  • weegokiburi weegokiburi

    I'm losing track of these treads again.
    Was bound to happen.

  • mt1000

    of general WIPP interest …
    info on 1960s nuke tests in Miss. using the Tatum SALT DOME …

  • mt1000

    … and in comparing same to WIPP … in Miss. they just let the waste dirt and rubble from the underground nuke tests (2) alone. They never did anything to clean up the site.
    I guess that will be future policy for US after N.M. disaster!

  • site at uc campus contaminated with plutonium —

    only remediated enough for restricted access then left alone


    thanks mt100 for the info.

  • jec jec

    And then this, thanks to Heart of the Rose..LIQUID used instead of DRY…

    "But a new hypothesis emerged last week, after it was disclosed that a contractor to LANL, EnergySolutions of Salt Lake City, Utah, had switched from dry reagents previously used to neutralize acids and bases in the waste, to liquid ones. The liquid reagents are known to react with nitrates. In an August 2013 e-mail, an EnergySolutions employee involved in the switch told a LANL official, "As the water reactivity of plutonium and criticality safety issues are not my area of expertise it may be advisable to have LANL personnel weigh in on these issues as well."
    Do you think LANL personnel READ the emails or responded? LIQUID is banned in WIPP.

  • jec jec

    Simplynfo posted unanswered questions. Presented during town hall meetings–WIPP is ignoring the public.

    Good luck with New Mexico regulators, WIPP and DOE. New Mexico VOTES.

  • weegokiburi weegokiburi

    I'm really losing track
    Got yo talk to someone

  • weegokiburi weegokiburi


  • jec jec

    Latest on WIPP from Current Argus, plus newest video 5/30/2014

    And the latest video is posted on the WIPP government site, it does not play for me (I refuse their tracking cookies I guess).

  • jec jec

    And those containers and bags:

    The bags in the video.I did not see ONE INTACT bag in the short 1 minute video. I did, however see CHARRED ceilings….

  • jec jec

    VIDEO CAMERAS IN WIPP! On May 29th, 2014 slides were provided to the general public during town hall.
    See the diagram showing video cams..and when they were in place..

    Four cameras are shown PRIOR to Feb 14, panels 6 and 7. Where is the video????

    • GQR2

      i don't see it. There is a vid of the Town Hall but that's it. 5 months and instead of better information we get more polished nothing information – they think if they can be vague enough…

    • jec jec

      This is a fairly complete rollup of the entire WIPP mess and the reason they lost inventory control. Probably on purpose by DOE who decided to discontinue inspection of containers in 2006…were there hidden emails which okayed the higher radiation wastes..because..

      "DOE confirms that four percent of the waste at WIPP is so radioactive that it can give a human being a fatal dose of radiation in minutes and can only be handled using robotics"

      What happened to low level waste and such..and only non-liquids to be stored at WIPP. DOE has a lot to answer for..they allowed this to happen…radioative contamination of the public!!!

  • mt1000

    "Greg Mello, the Executive Director of the Los Alamos Study Group, says, “Perhaps most important is DOE’s willingness to walk away from how waste was supposed to be managed.” Mello points out that four months after the explosion, there are still 367 suspect storage canisters that came from LANL that are still at WIPP. He says they were packed with a form of kitty litter that DOE investigators fear could explode due to a chemical reaction with the radioactive contents inside each container. “The kitty litter acts as an explosive oxidizer. What are already in these storage drums are radiation contaminated salt nitrates – effectively the same salts as in gunpowder. . . ."


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