Albuquerque Journal, Apr. 1, 2014: [WIPP] said it postponed plans for workers to re-enter the underground nuclear waste repository Tuesday [...] delivery of a set of radiation monitors to be worn on workers’ lapels did not arrive on time. [...] WIPP said the re-entry would be postponed until the monitors arrive but did not say when the shipment is expected.
AP, Apr. 1, 2014: The U.S. Department of Energy has postponed plans to get a crew underground to begin investigating a radiation leak [...] It’s unknown what is leaking or how extensive the contamination might be below ground at [WIPP]
Albuquerque Journal, Apr. 2, 2014: [...] still no one knows what happened at New Mexico’s nuclear waste repository that caused radiation to escape [...] back-to-back incidents [...] have left many aspects of the permits that govern how [WIPP] operates open to question. The ongoing investigation into the source of the radiation release and the extent of contamination underground could topple long-held assumptions, experts say. One of those relates to how containers destined for WIPP are tested. When WIPP opened in 1999, nearly every single container headed for the repository was checked for “headspace gas,” the flammable or corrosive chemicals that can build up in the space between the drum contents and lid and threaten a rupture or explosion. State regulators relaxed those rules over time [...] only two other risks outlined in WIPP’s lengthy Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement remain: a roof collapse or an exploding drum. Both risks are considered possible causes of the recent leak.
WIPP Town Hall, Mar. 27, 2014 — Tammy Reynolds, WIPP recovery leader (at 20:00 in): I’m going to walk you through several of the key recovery activities that we’ve been working on. The first one is the installation of what’s called a continuous air monitor in station B […] where filtered air is going out to the environment. […] What that monitor is going to do for us is going to provide real-time information if there’s anything coming out of that stack that we need to be concerned about. So we’re very excited to get that monitor in place because one of our challenges has been we don’t have real-time monitoring and so sometimes there is a delay in determining what is coming out of the stack. […] We’re going to watch it for about a week and make sure it’s operating properly and ultimately it’s going to be tied into our control room and so that in real-time, we will know if there is any concern of anything coming out of the stack. What we will we do with that information if it’s an alarm point then we will be able to respond and take protective action such as sheltering personnel indoors and then the appropriate actions we would need to take from that. […] The second item that we’re working on is the venting of TRU pack 2 and TRU pack 3 containers […] So that containers came into the WIPP site prior to the events. We have a requirement from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to vent those containers within 60 days. One of the reasons for that requirement is there could potentially be a buildup of gas in those containers and so one of the regulatory requirements is to vent them.
Published: April 2nd, 2014 at 5:15 am ET