Albuquerque Journal, Mar. 13, 2014: WIPP replaces president, project manager — Bob McQuinn has been named to replace Farok Sharif as head of the Nuclear Waste Partnership [...] According to Sharif’s online biography, he is credited with helping WIPP ramp up the processing of waste deliveries from one or two per week to more than 30 shipments per week.
KOAT, Mar. 13, 2014: Leadership change at troubled nuclear dump [...] president of southeastern New Mexico’s troubled nuclear waste dump has been demoted as investigations into a truck fire and radiation release near completion.
AP, Mar. 14, 2014: Joe Franco, who runs the Department of Energy’s site office at WIPP, choked up as he took the stand at the meeting, telling the community that at first he took the findings personally. “It’s one of those things, being part of the family, one of those things that’s a little tough [...] we definitely got away with not … having anyone seriously hurt. So we need to learn [...] I wanted the truth. We don’t need any sugar-coating.”
Franco in 2012: Franco addressed issues he considers important [...] WIPP’s aging infrastructure and a higher-than-expected throughput over the years has resulted in wear-and-tear on the facility. [...] the number of WIPP shipments received isn’t the best performance measure [...] risk reduction also needs to be considered. “The reason is that even small numbers of shipments to WIPP can, in some cases, dramatically reduce the risk to people and the environment.”
Albuquerque Journal, Mar. 14, 2014: [Ted Wyka, DOE official who led investigation] said the old truck that was hauling salt had a buildup of oil and other combustible materials as well as active leaks. The fire probably started about 30 minutes before the driver saw the orange glow from the engine compartment [...] the automatic fire-suppression system that might have detected the heat earlier was not active [...] the fire extinguisher the driver sprayed on the truck apparently didn’t work. [...] he said emergency strobe lights were not activated for five minutes, the command-center response was lacking and the investigation showed emergency training drills were inadequate. [...] The biggest lesson, he said, is about the mindset at the site.
Published: March 14th, 2014 at 12:25 pm ET