US Gov’t: Never faced challenge like this, but “not giving up hope” at WIPP; Salt from contaminated mine to be sold as feed to dairy farms — TV: “Residents flat out concerned for their safety”; “I want to believe them… but I don’t” — Reuters: ‘Falling slabs’ may have breached waste drums (VIDEO)

Published: March 7th, 2014 at 10:32 am ET


Reuters, Mar. 5: The leak may have been caused by falling slabs of salt that created a breach of a drum or drums containing waste, officials have said.

Joe Franco, US DOE, Mar. 5: “We have not faced this kind of challenge in our 15-year history”

KRQE, Mar. 5: Damage control is in full swing.

KRQE, Mar. 6: A lot questions remain about the WIPP radiation leak. On Thursday at a town hall meeting in Carlsbad, residents and many WIPP supporters told officials they’re frustrated […] Some residents say they’re flat out concerned for their safety […]

Carlsbad Current Argus, Mar. 6 (emphasis added): Plans cleanup crews are considering underground at WIPP include mining some of the salt off the existing wall […] WIPP currently sells the salt to local private industry, including for use as salt feed at local dairies. Franco said he thinks the DOE should be able to continue selling the mined salt.

Carlsbad Current Argus, Mar. 6: David Klaus, deputy under secretary for management and performance, and David Huizenga, senior advisor for the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management, made the trip to Carlsbad from Washington D.C. and said that the DOE is not giving up hope that all radiation particles in WIPP’s south salt mine can be eradicated. “There’s no other option for us, we need to go down there, sort it out […]” Huizenga said.

Senator Tom Udall, Mar. 6: “It’s absolutely critical for DOE to be as open and transparent as possible […] The community understandably has questions about health and safety”

Udall, Mar. 6: “We’re doing everything we can to […] give the community the info they need to make decisions with their lives.”

AP, Mar. 6: DOE [and EPA] have all said there’s no public health threat, but watchdog groups have questioned whether officials are holding back information related to the leak.

National Journal, Mar. 6: [EPA] regional chief Ron Curry said the early analyses indicate that no related medical complications are likely to arise in nearby populations.

Franco, Mar. 5: “Ongoing air and environmental monitoring around the WIPP site, both by our contractor and by independent parties, is showing no significant off-site contamination.”

Karen Armendaruz, resident, Mar. 6: “I want to believe what they’re saying that the levels are practically non-existent, but truthfully, I don’t really believe that.”

Watch the KRQE broadcast on last night’s town hall here

Published: March 7th, 2014 at 10:32 am ET


Related Posts

  1. 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
  2. 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) July 13, 2014
  3. “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
  4. Video: WIPP nuclear site may close for several years — Explosion in multiple drums suspected — “Very much a cause for concern” — Top official gives ‘fiery speech’ calling for public to be told what has happened — DOE refuses to name source of nuclear waste May 9, 2014
  5. Gov’t: Radioactive release “orders of magnitude” worse than predicted at US nuclear dump — 370 Billion Bq of Plutonium equivalent may have escaped from WIPP drum during “thermal runaway” & multiple fires — For amount to be that high, a “significant number” of breached drums is expected (VIDEO) May 1, 2015

227 comments to US Gov’t: Never faced challenge like this, but “not giving up hope” at WIPP; Salt from contaminated mine to be sold as feed to dairy farms — TV: “Residents flat out concerned for their safety”; “I want to believe them… but I don’t” — Reuters: ‘Falling slabs’ may have breached waste drums (VIDEO)

  • Tricks

    It boggles my mind that the DOE and WIPP have been allowed to continue using the "low level waste" description of what is stored inside the facility. The excess weapons grade plutonium that was found unusable for the MOX facility at Savannah River has been sent to the WIPP facility. This is hardly gloves and aprons and someone should call the DOE on what is really inside the mine.

    • Capt. Nemo Capt. Nemo

      I suspect the whole thing will collapse in on itself! They seem to have no practical idea of what this stuff will do over the years. This is very sloppy operation.

  • Capt. Nemo Capt. Nemo

    U.S. puts South Carolina plutonium plant on hold in 2015 budget

    "The MOX plant would convert plutonium from nuclear weapons programs into a fuel for nuclear power plants, but is expensive and has gone over budget. The plant could cost up to $30 billion over its lifetime, a recent DOE study found."

    "South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham was incensed at the move and vowed to keep the MOX plant on track.

    "This cannot stand," Graham said in a release, adding the decision to freeze the program represented a "fundamental breach of trust" with the people of South Carolina."

    Everybody wants this stuff.

    • Crash2Parties Crash2Parties

      Isn't Graham the guy who has been tantruming for us to invade Iran since at least 2007?


      MOX, beat into plowshares. What could possibly go wrong? Also, didn't he say just few months ago that nuclear material in the hands of "terrorists" would result in Charleston being destroyed by an atomic bomb?

      Looks like he wants to eliminate the middleman and make it a statistical certainty that more people will die of radiation.


    Like Fukushima and Hanford wasn't enough in our dairy products (milk & ice cream) manufactured from the West Coast and shipped U.S. wide. Now we get to add WIPP to the list, at this point who cares about the pink slime meat when we get these long living isotopes in our meat/dairy.

  • rogerthat

    ''the DOE is not giving up hope that all radiation particles in WIPP’s south salt mine can be eradicated.''

  • rogerthat

    ''no related medical complications are likely to arise''
    Well that's comforting. Except for those people for whom the unlikely becomes reality. You know, the ones who die from something gruesome and rare, or from something for which the link to released man-made radiation cannot be proved in a court because no one has collected samples, measured, studied, done the research.

  • Fred

    "“There are no health impacts to you, to your family, the members of your community from the event,” said WIPP technical advisor Fran Williams."

    Somebody get Franny a hard hat and some sneakers to replace her high heels. We're takin' her down in the mine without a respirator to see if she's tellin' us the truth!…

    Every DOE bureaucrat parroting these lies MUST, by force if necessary, be on the next mine tour as close as they can get to the crashed rooms. Leave 'em down there with beer and pizza for 24 hours as human guinea pigs with communications to the news media HQ trailer, just in case they want to tell us something importtant to save their skins….(c;]

    • Fred, I like the way you think. If every Tepco administrator had had to sit around Fukushima for a few days, I'm guessing they would have freaked out (rightly) and the word would have spread. Same at WIPP.

  • jec jec

    The ED Show on TV just showed a map of the Ogallala Aquifer which covers MOST of the middle USA from southern border of the USA to Northern, to Mississippi on the east..and Colorado on the west. Its a BIG area. Now Mr. Ed was outlining possible Keystone pipeline contamination of the aquifer. Wonder what he would say to RADIATION contamination by High Level Nuclear Waste from WIPP to the Ogallala? Is it possible? Yes..many articles reference concern about WIPP ,"clearly support earlier observations on extensive solution collapse and basin filling"

  • Ontological Ontological

    Sell salt from the contaminated mine to feed to dairy animals? Why not just add it to baby formula! There is no bottom to this snake pit these days. WTF kind of Draconian thinking is this? So let's get this lie straight. A truck blew up and it contaminated minuscule amounts here and there. Then it was maybe the vents failed. Vents? In a waste storage area "isolated" from the environment. The after the RADNET lights all went on over a vast area of Texas, it's "Maybe a cavern collapsed and nicked open a can of low level crap. Now the news is Arnie's WB'er confirming a substantial cave in, and HIGH level materials involved; and the story still stinks somehow with too many half truths.

    Frack on you mindless fools, frack on.

    Humankind's excuse, "We don't deserve prison, we were only in it for the money."

  • ss.minnow

    guilty of or involving betrayal or deception.
    "a treacherous Gestapo agent"
    synonyms: traitorous, disloyal, faithless, unfaithful, duplicitous, deceitful, deceptive, false, backstabbing, double-crossing, double-dealing, two-faced, Janus-faced, weaselly, untrustworthy, unreliable; More
    antonyms: loyal, faithful
    (of ground, water, conditions, etc.) hazardous because of presenting hidden or unpredictable dangers.
    "a vacationer was swept away by treacherous currents"
    synonyms: dangerous, hazardous, perilous, unsafe, precarious, risky, deceptive, unreliable; More
    antonyms: safe, reliable

    Middle English (in the sense ‘involving betrayal’): from Old French trecherous, from trecheor ‘a cheat,’ from trechier ‘to cheat.’
    Pretty well covers it. Unfortunately there's only one way this behaviour can be dealt with. We're long past trying to understand it. It's as obvious as can be.

  • freespirit1620

    I live south of Amarillo, Tx, about 230 miles from the WIPP. There are hundreds of thousands of cows in feedyards and on pasture. Everywhere else is cotton fields. We have really shit in our nest this time.

    • Sol Man

      The mid September floods in CO were also quite the shitting in the nest with 1,900 fracked oil/gas wells touched by the flood waters. The number was later downgraded to 1,300 with produced water ponds mixed into the ground waters, farm fields, irrigation ditches, the Platte River, and so on across the many county area. The actual number is probably somewhere in the middle of those. CO has over 50,000 fracking wells according to Wiki.

      This damage happened in some of the best farm and ranching areas of the nation, too.

  • Salemone Salemone

    This entire thing is playing out like the movie "Jaws", where the mayor doesn't want to close the beaches due to economic impact. I am waiting for a Richard Dreyfus character to show up and deliver the line "You are going to ignore this particular problem until it swims up and bites you in the ass!!"

  • mairs mairs

    The people of the area wanting to be kept informed, wanting to be told the truth, is poignant in the extreme. They won't be. If we can go by how every other nuclear accident has been handled by various governments, including in the US, they won't be.

  • Max Sievert Max Sievert

    New Mexico Nuclear Waste Is Sitting Above Huge Pressurized Pocket of Brine!

  • Sickputer

    Speaking of drones…any more news about the large jet bomber drone carrying a secret weapons test that crashed at White Sands National Monument Park and they closed the park for several days?

    This was not a standard small slow assassin drone, but was a full-size unmanned F-4 supersonic jet bomber. There was some conjecture it was carrying and test firing an NSWR:

    "Federal Security Service (FSB) intelligence experts contributing to this report say the US wanted to eliminate USEC to divert HEU Purchase Agreement uranium for the purpose of reconstituting it to its highly dangerous U-235 level to conduct experiments at the WIPP on what is called nuclear salt-water rockets (NSWR), which is a proposed type of nuclear thermal rocket designed by Robert Zubrin that would be fueled by water bearing dissolved salts of plutonium or U-235. Under tight strictures put upon it by US law, this report says, the White House needed Russia’s HEU Purchase Agreement uranium for these NSWR experiments and which is not reportable. On 5 February, however, this report continues, these NSWR experiments at the WIPP went “horrifically wrong” leading to an explosion and fire at the underground facility, followed by the 14 February “radiological event” that prompted its full evacuation."

  • FXofTruth

    Wait for it…
    Wait for it…

    Bang! Once again a series of "Don't worry"; "Under the safety limits"; "No impact"; "Low Levels"; "Believe it safe"; "NO significant readings"; "we have everything under control" bullshit.

    Here's a simple rule of thumb to always follow:

    Safety limit – the only safe limit is not to do it in the FIRST PLACE! Since when does the Government know ANYTHING about what's safe for the Public's health? They allow foods to be infused with the same chemicals that industries use to clean machines or cool engines with. They allow meats to be jacked up with antibiotics and chemical agents to fatten the animals in sickening ways. Also, the Public water supplies have radiation contamination from the air and a host of sewage and toxic chemicals that get consumed daily. No one worries about exceeding the "Public safety limits" there!

    So, the Public safety limit is a sliding scale that always slides higher and higher!

    • GQR2

      Fxfortruth – word up,yesss.Its laughable how the word "safe" and "safety" are used nowadays in our contaminated deadly toxic world whose deadly toxic practices were supposedly created by and for our "safety". From TSA x-rays, to Nuclear Reactors, there is no concern for our safety or health. We are the cattle to be manipulated and herded. To be managed.

      Safety is a racket to the corporations,the public health divisions of most cities and states especially those with Nuclear Reactors and Dumps.

      i noticed this a long time ago. How safe does a person expect to be in this world? The threat however is internal. Seemed like the plan was to make people as insecure as possible after 9/11 then bilk them for all their worth and enrich the corporations at the same time with surveillance and every conceivable project and weapon for our They have ruined the word.

      At last night's town hall in Carlsbad NM James Heaton a complete psychopath just through soft ball questions to the D O E guy it was sickening to see.
      Its safe …oh the levels are no more than background. There is no education about radiation. They know if people really comprehended the truth they would be ….held accountable.

  • Shaker1

    Bless me, father, for I have sinned. It's been about a week since my last confession. I visit physicsforums at least once a week…

    At the beginning of this episode and I believe before the news report that some individuals were actually contaminated, there was naturally a thread at the site. The first page of comments was crap, the 'was it really an event?' stuff with the 'cool' heads offering comfort that there was nothing to fear or criticizing the news as fear-inducing, but the second page yielded two good links which I appreciated. (Which proves the reason that I visit.) I was rather surprised on visiting today that nothing was added, and (tongue-in-cheek) to my relief it truly is a non-event. For all those downwind, you can sleep well now, huh?

  • paschn


    Think of the supreme irony in all this. For decades the Demon-in the-Flesh Kissinger has spewed getting rid of the useless eaters, the "Goyim" as we are called in the Synagogue's "holy book" the Talmud. Now it appears The Father of one of their early victims is making certain the Kissingers of this suffering world are included in His bringing "…to ruin those ruining the earth". ROFLMAO! It appears that Karma truly is a bitch. Eh?

  • "Variations upon a children's song"

    WIPP the tragic puffer
    live by the salt

    WIPP the puffy miner
    lived in the salt

    WIPP the wasty salt mine
    puffed from the ground

    WIPP the secret weapon
    puffed toxic waste

    Any more ideas 🙁 ?

  • jec jec

    Wonder if NASA could fly the reference sinkhole finding UAVSAR over WIPP to see if any deformations can be seen from the mess below. BEFORE sending humans down! Don't expect humans down there until the radiation suits are in their hands, around March 15. Unless the company provided at risk (for sole source..its not much risk)…and WIPP workers have them already. Photos of the current work would be good to see if they are using RAD suits and respirators.

    Since a probe has been inserted, Friday?, some radiation contamination levels should be available NOW. SILENCE is BAD.

  • jec jec

    Black dense smoke from Plutonium fires..ROCKY FLATS Nuclear Fire, any Lessons Learned?

  • jec jec

    "Government officials hid behind "national security" in refusing to provide details of the fire."

    "But a secret AEC investigation report from August 1969 sharply criticized both AEC and Dow management for neglecting fire safety in the Building 776-777 complex. "

    "It noted that plant managers added equipment and structures to the building on an ad hoc basis. "This 'Topsy-like' growth led to overcrowded conditions that made compliance with fire safety regulations even more difficult, if not impossible."

    "The report blamed Dow Chemical for lacking "a competent and centralized safety organization" at the plant. "

    Just change the date..and names..its the SAME for WIPP. So should not be a surprise. Same adhoc and cavalier approach to radiation and safety..same results..a disaster..

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Udall, Heinrich, Pearce Press Energy Secretary Moniz on Next Steps for WIPP
    …met with Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to discuss the agency's ongoing response to the incident at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, N.M.


    • jec jec

      If anything useful comes out of this, let us know Heart! If it produces anything good for the radiation exposure and provides a plan that will work to make the site secure..will burn my socks!! Let me know if I should start up the bonfire…

      Wait..EPA says no more wood burning..good news..stinky socks are NOT wood..!!

    • razzz razzz

      I see the spin is attempting to keep this a localized event like fallout says within borders.

      The salt mine is done for and WIPP officials are like the walking dead with no direction pretending that the mine will reopen for business. Washington wants a place for nuke waste to go no matter what.

      Wonder how many brave workers (there is always a few) will show up to don moon suits and enter the mine. Maybe like Daiichi they can get the local town drunks to go down there.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Steven Pearce in the news..

    Steve Pearce CPAC Panel Preview: Disconnected from Reality
    May 6 2014

    Criticized for $19,525 trip to Egypt, Steve Pearce defends National Guard visit –
    July 1 2013

    More FEMA relief for my state..none for yours.


    GOP Congressman: Wives Should 'Voluntarily Submit' To Their Husbands

    PS.. I'm glad it's working for the guy.
    Submit to what??..
    Perhaps his wife is delusional…lol.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Or maybe she has a thing for clowns…

    "Congressman Steve Pearce hosted one of the more entertaining public gatherings since multiple events at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant caused the facility to stop operations.

    Country twang, mixed with harmless jabs at Department of Energy officials, lightened the mood during a town hall meeting that Pearce moderated at the Leo Sweet Center on Friday. Nearly 200 people in the audience were all brought to laughs or chuckles at some point, but the seriousness of the gathering was not lost."

    Congressman Pearce hosts WIPP forum
    March 8 2014

    Lots of word craft..and so much blah blah blah..
    The audience seemed to understand the radiation leak..
    Really?..or did they just swallow the lies.

    A little elaboration as to the 'supposed' cause of the fire.
    How exactly..did the situation go from fire to nuclear 'puff'.
    And even..confirmation of a rumor..
    The staff.."shifted the filtration".
    What is 'shifted the filtration'?

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    What filtration?

    WIPP: Underground operations suspended pending federal review

  • unincredulous unincredulous

    "WIPP currently sells the salt to local private industry, including for use as salt feed at local dairies. Franco said he thinks the DOE should be able to continue selling the mined salt."

    No attempts at sarcasm here. No humorous meanings. No avoiding the issue.

    That man is insane.