Wall St. Journal: Report reveals WIPP containment system leaked radiation — ‘Unfiltered’ plutonium released into environment for 20 days after accident — Something like this “wasn’t supposed to happen for 10,000 years” (VIDEO)

Published: April 24th, 2014 at 9:17 am ET


AP, Apr. 23, 2014: Board chairman Ted Wyka previewed the [Department of Energy’s Accident Investigation Board report] findings at a community meeting Wednesday […] Shortcomings were found at almost every step, from a more than 10-hour response to the initial emergency alarm to a bypass in the filtration system that allowed the radiation to escape above ground. “The bottom line is they failed to believe initial indications of the release,” Wyka said. […] Crews are still working to identify the source of the leak, which sent low levels of radiation into the air around the plant, but officials believe it occurred in the area where toxic waste was last being handled. Officials Wednesday night said there were people working in that area at the time of the fire, but did not say what they were doing.

Ventilation system leakage went unsealed from when the radiation event occurred on Feb. 14 until Mar. 6

Wall St. Journal, Apr. 23, 2014: A separate problem surfaced during the Feb. 14 radiation accident: The containment system leaked, allowing some radiation to escape from underground. The plant hadn’t experienced a radiation accident previously, and site-maintenance procedures didn’t require that the containment system be tested for leakage, Energy Department officials said. […] While a radiation-containment system was installed, it didn’t have the “safety pedigree that we would want.” Such a radiation accident at the site “wasn’t supposed to happen for 10,000 years,” said Geoffrey Fettus, a senior attorney at environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council and a former New Mexico state assistant attorney general who worked on issues related to the plant.

Ted Wyka, chairman of Department of Energy’s Accident Investigation Board, Apr. 23, 2014 (at 1:04:00 in): HEPA filter bypass dampers, they represent a pathway — and they did — of unfiltered exhaust to the environment. […] They have an unacceptable design leakage for a containment boundary. That bypass dampers around the HEPA filters, which operated with the efficiency that you would expect… design leakage reduces the overall efficiency of the HEPA filter system, and was the source of the release on Feb. 14, that bypass around the HEPA filters.

Watch yesterday’s WIPP town hall here

Published: April 24th, 2014 at 9:17 am ET


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81 comments to Wall St. Journal: Report reveals WIPP containment system leaked radiation — ‘Unfiltered’ plutonium released into environment for 20 days after accident — Something like this “wasn’t supposed to happen for 10,000 years” (VIDEO)

  • melting mermaid melting mermaid

    I'm so very glad the "unfiltered exhaust to the environment" poses no threat to human health. Because if did and you knew and duped the people in the surrounding area into inhaling all manner of radioactive nasties that will affect them and all their children and their children's children who manage to survive, forever that would just be mean, not to mention a dereliction of duty and criminally insane…Idiots! Homer Simson could do better. What do these people think is at stake here? There will be no jobs, no retirement no nothing if the earth can't support LIFE!

    • robertsgt40

      "They have an unacceptable design leakage for a containment boundary."–OK, who signed off on the "unacceptable design"?

    • NondiPloom

      Nuclear power is clean . . . and most of all, SAFE! Just ask any nuclear industry spokesperson.

    • We Not They Finally

      No, no. It seems to be the very first time where the Department of Energy itself has NOT said that this poses no threat to human health. It was apparently so serious, so negligent, so appalling, so dangerous, that they did not even COMMENT on the effects on human health.

      This is profoundly damning from THEIR end. Compared to any usual previous statement about ANY accident, this is THEM saying that whatever happened was GHASTLY.

      So we can say, it's just what they would usually say. But no, it's NOT what they would usually say. It's way worse. They are DAMNING this facility by saying NOTHING exculpatory, and giving NO assurance about health.

      What the hell really happened there???

  • rogerthat

    …'' the leak, which sent low levels of radiation into the air around the plant…''

    Low levels? What's that mean? Why don't they publish the data, and tell us what constitutes ''low'' and ''high'' and how they arrived at the distinction?

    And stop confusing people by talking about rems and sieverts and bequerels and curies. Why not just call a banana a banana and be done with it?

    • rogerthat

      … so they could say: ''An Unforeseen Event caused the discharge of 4 billion bananas of radiation in a salt mine 5000 feet underground.Two billion bananas escaped to the surface because the Hepa filters were blocked.''
      By what, you ask? ''By bananas, you silly arse,'' they could say.

    • I love how the nuke pimps insist on saying words twice, they seems to always say low low, as if that gives it more credibility.

      Sorry, PIMPS we ain't buying your lies anymore. You pushed it too far.

  • Sol Man

    So the fix appears to be new some new equipment, procedures, layers of management, and reports, but what is to stop spontaneous chemical/radiological reactions within the sealed containers/vaults, that may then catastrophically fail?

  • rogerthat

    Also from AP: ''Officials Wednesday night said there were people working in that area at the time of the fire, but did not say what they were doing.''

    THE FIRE??? What fire? Do they know there was a fire? What kind of a fire? Do nuclear fires, left to themselves, go out? Or are they confusing the earlier truck fire with the so fair unexplained discharge of radiation?

    • We Not They Finally

      The fire they said was from a 29-year-old truck but that was, I believe, about two weeks PRIOR to the Valentine's Day accident, which they said was then a separate, new accident.

      It would not be a surprise at all if they were related, but no, we don't seem to be being told how.

      • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

        I think it is related..
        Heat is a great facilitator of changes in chemical composition.
        WIPP is not testing for hydrogen, methane or VOC's..
        A nuclear/gas event?

        At 4:05..
        Three days before the nuclear incident.. there was a..

        Transmittal of Requested Information Pertaining to an Estimation of the Gas Generation Rate of Some Remote Handled TRU Mixed waste Streams
        Feb 19 2014

        INHALED PLUTONIUM 96,000 TIMES Above HIGHEST Background Coming From New Mexico


      • The incidents are unrelated to the same degree as the released radiation is harmless.

  • "…site-maintenance procedures didn’t require that the containment system be tested for leakage, Energy Department officials said."


    • Take note, ask questions.

      Watch yesterday’s WIPP town hall here:

      IMO – The DELAY TACTICS employed are a key factor to determining the real severity of a Radiation Contamination catastrophe.

      Remember, at 3 months into the Fukushima debacle, we were still being told that 'cold shutdowns' would occur in 6 months.

    • Bay Area Guy 2

      Well, c'mon. It's not SUPPOSED to leak, so why bother testing for leaks?

      God, what incompetent figures it isn't important to test for leaks in a system which, if breached, can kill untold numbers of people?

  • GQR2

    From the WIPP website. WIPP workers giving training to anybody is apparently a dangerous joke.

    "Did you know?

    The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) has trained more than 32,000 emergency response professionals along WIPP routes since 1988."

    Today the next accident assessment report is made public.


    • rogerthat

      32,000 is a lot of jobs.

      • That is a lot of jobs for people living off the sweat of my brow….to support an INSANE industry like nuclear

      • Bay Area Guy 2

        That's 2000 people a year, which tells me there is an extraordinarily high rate of turnover there. Does anyone know what staffing levels are?

        • Pete

          The 32,000 number is EMT's and emergency responders in the communities along the highways that the WIPP waste travels on.

          The training is supposed to teach them how to handle radio release incidents but since WIPP itself doesn't really know what they are doing its hard to see how they could teach shit. Besides without a $6K spectrometer how much does anyone really know?

          Judging by the multiple reports of smoking inbound TRU-PACTs on trailers, and no RadHazMat response, I imagine all they taught those EMT's is that in all cases everything will be fine, fear of radiation is more dangerous than actual radiation, no releases could ever endanger people and the smoke pouring out of a TRUPACT is only as dangerous as a eating a banana on an airplane flight.

          And besides, when your in the hospital good luck proving that your lung cancer was caused by plutonium and then also proving That plutonium came from WIPP or a smoking TRUPACT.

  • melting mermaid melting mermaid

    Rogerthat, because we live in a banana republic, run by oligarchs who are clearly bananas. And all the banana radiation and compartmentalization makes people quite stupid and easily duped. Its like being pelted with bananas while spiralling down a black hole. And its hard to crawl out of that hole because of all the banana peels and the crazy people who keep throwing them at you. It has all made me quite bananas.

  • rogerthat

    dear mm, i once had a T-shirt of Reagan telling i think caspar weinberger that it was time to invade another banana republic because ''I want more bananas''. A prized possession until it fell to pieces along with a Cave Dwellers, NM T-shirt. Bananas are now in oversupply, so look on the bright side, maybe no more invasions for a while lol.

    • rogerthat

      mm: ''… duped the people … into inhaling''

      -I always thought Clinton was smart and honest. He told people of the virtues of not inhaling. It's fine to join in the fun, but if you want to go to heaven (or to live a long life before you do), never, ever inhale.

  • Sol Man

    Millions of people should be concerned as the winds were gusting to 35-40 mph after 2/14, made for quite a wide area of distribution.

  • Nick

    DOE to WIPPee: We need to come up with a fix fast for this mess, stuff is backing up all along the waste/supply chain.

    WIPPee: I didn't know we were supposed to test for site ventilation leakage. Those dampers are to save changing out the HEPA filters so often.

    DOE: Well, let's go with saying we have corrected the damper issue.

    WIPPee: But we haven't switched out the HEPA yet.

    DOE: You mean the damper is still open?

    WIPPee: Shhhh! We don't want to have more wackos screaming at us that we are venting.

    DOE: Got it. So we stick to the low-level meme, right?

    WIPPee: Yup.

    • WindorSolarPlease

      Hi Nick

      Is this conversation fact? I wouldn't be surprised sounds about right. I am thinking that this could be a good guess.

      • The sole fact that your question seems legitimate as the dialogue cannot immediately and without any doubt be identified as humor/satire/cynism tells us a lot about the situation. I'm sure it is fictious in this case, but still we should stay prepared for reality to mimic and even beat it in terms of absurdity any minute.

        I suppose it's hard to make a living as political cabaret artist these days…

  • I want a class action suit to the benefit of the banana growers of the world. Slander and defamation of being compared to Plutonium by the WIPPer at town halls.

  • Rod Adams

    April 23, 2014 at 9:42 PM

    @John T Tucker

    I don’t think the hardcore anti nukes will ever see reason.

    Pronuker Rod Adams takes a firm stand that using the Ad Hominem attack to anti-nukers is totally acceptable.
    yep—when you can't beat them in the game of truth, pro nukers MUST use false arguments and Ad Hominem attacks, stock out


    I tend to agree, but do you realize that you could probably put all of the hardcore antinuclear activists into a single lecture hall and still have room to spare?

    By the way, that is one of the reasons I have decided that it is dumb to play nice and be scared off by accusations of ad hominem attacks. If there is an archer wildly forming arrows (arguments) out of thin air and firing them without limit, the effective response is to aim truthful barbs at the archer.

  • Sickputer

    "Such a radiation accident at the site “wasn’t supposed to happen for 10,000 years,” said Geoffrey Fettus, a senior attorney at environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council"

    SP: Where did we hear this 10,000 year reference before? Oh yeah…Fukushambles!

    That excuse is getting way lame. Just admit you can't control your nuclear technology and when accidents or disasters occur, people and the natural environment suffer.

    Tested that WIPP well water later? Could be another Hinkley moment:

    Not in English, but check out the face of the polluter's lawyer when she is informed the water in her glass is from the toxic Hinkley water supply:


  • dosdos dosdos

    Okay, both EPA and DOE both stated that the 10,000 year safe period begins AFTER they close the mine. Since the mine hasn't closed yet, the accident and release into the environment won't count against them on their licensing.

  • Barely OT—but NRC has an article and chance to comment on reactor decomissioning

    here is my comment
    Right now, all used fuel over 5 years old shall be drycasked, this helps the work transition program for the plant employees.

    5 years from shutdown, all the rest of the fuel is drycasked, and moved to an offsite loaction far away from populated areas and thus far away from the effects of an airliner or bomb attack on the site.

    Now start dismantling the plant. The short lived isotopes are pretty much gone. And the longer lived istopes, strontium, cesium, transuranics, and other nuetron activated items are just not going away so fast, so the excuse that “we have to let them decay more to make the decomm safer” is just reality and we don’t buy it. Get on with it, head towards greenfield.

    And the excuse that “we have to let the funds set aside grow through compound interest to ‘better serve the needs of the public’ by allowing more funds 60 years from now….well anyone who thinks that at the lofty and fed pumped elevated nature of the equities and futures market valuations, plus the systemic risks and corruption inside the financial industries, and the near zero interest rates on fixed income investments. Well if there is anyone on this planet who think that any of these “investments” will even keep place with inflation whilst the printing presses run amok with NO end possible until there is a full on system collapse and reset, well if there is a

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    And what happened on day 20 ..that would have caused the emissions to cease?

    • We Not They Finally

      Interesting point, since they seem to have no clue where it is even coming from, and it is still too radioactive for humans to enter!!

      Maybe someone's dosimeter just broke down after 20 days. You know, like the hour-long batteries on the radiation protection suits which was what allegedly prevented the workers from actually probing the source of radioactive escape. (Good God — PLEASE let's get away from the word "leak"!)

      • nedlifromvermont

        Hey WNTF … the lady at the meeting reported on the double suited humans who went into Panel 7, all the way back, and who registered 10,000 dpm's at the waste face, but couldn't see anything out of the ordinary … and then they went to the slider window on the bulkhead at the back of Panel 6 and looked through and saw nothing amiss, but registered 20,000 dpm's at that spot, and who then high tailed it back to the beach head and got painted down (to trap the radioactive particulate matter,) and then who got cut out of their suits … and further inspected and decontaminated … so humans can in fact enter the site … they just didn't see anything amiss but they did register disturbing levels of radioactivity …

        but this is a private business "partnership" with government oversight … so what could possibly go wrong with this picture.

        Time to nationalize Big Nuke.

    • Supposedly they spray foamed the bypass dampers shut, so they say.

  • Dick Shenary

    Good News! (or bad depending upon your point of view), bananas could be wiped out this year and next as a potent mold called Fusarium is endangering world wide banana crops. Fusarium could eliminate the threat of all those billions of dangerous bananas loaded with potassium. The bad news is the nuclear industry will have to find another scapegoat fruit to make radiological comparisons with. I recommend the cactus prickly pear fruit. Just think of those thousands of dangerous sharp needles just loaded with naturally occuring isotopes.

  • dosdos dosdos

    It just occurred to me that bypasses on the filter would greatly reduce the amount of contamination captured of the filters for testing. So their figures on the amount of isotopes that they determined from the filters is but a fraction of the real amount, along with the fact that the filters weren't in place at the peak of the release, and engaging the filters greatly reduces the air flow and the contamination captured on the filters. It's difficult to come with a ratio without more air flow parameters, but I daresay that their readings off the filters are below 10% of the actual release.

    • jec jec

      From the article,

      "If you have any questions, please contact Mr. George T. Basabilvazo
      at (575)234-7488."

      Well I have questions! People with questions should call about this modification and ask ABOUT HIGH LEVEL WASTE!!!

    • jec jec

      1000 REMS per hour waste stored in WIPP!! Read the government documents from DOE. Was anyone aware they had OKAYED "remote handled" radioactive materials–not to exceed a surface dose rate of 1000 REMS per hour for WIPP? 1000 REMS per hour?? And other documents discuss measurements in 200 millrems per hour or GREATER. Since 5 REMS is the MAX dose rate for workers for a YEAR..go figure out what was stuck in WIPP!!! Wonder if anyone from the State of New Mexico was involved or knew?….

      • GQR2

        i have lots of questions too jec, lots of them.
        And about the entire permit process – seems hasty.
        How do they justify issuing permits at this time of "Recovery" Seems a little to quick to me.

  • Nick

    Windorsolarplease…. My post was pure fiction, but I have a hunch it ain't too far off from fact.


    The HEPA filter bank is supposed to trap 99.7% of particles.

    Since stuff went AROUND this "failsafe" system for ~20 days we, do indeed, really have NO IDEA how much dust on the wind found it's way into downwinders' lungs, etc.

    I am certain that DOE/EPA/NSA/DoD/Homeland Security/CIA/FBI/etc are all secretly having discussions about what is next for WIPP.

    Remember, WIPP HAS TO REOPEN.

    Nothing short of that should be expected. The only issue is when.

    If the workers have TRUly been gagged, then that is an indication of an event of serious concern.

    Methinks a whole lot of folks are going to spin, spin, and shill, hoping the public gets too dizzy to care anymore.

    All things nuclear, have always worked this way.

    • jec jec

      Nick, add "up to" 99.7%..and nowhere are there engineering studies or documents to show TESTING of said filters. Bet it was a cheap purchase as well…contractor style.

  • mt1000

    Local paper might get the report as fast as anybody.

    Don't worry about 300 page length. These things are usually quadruple spaced and it should read like a 90 page doc. Patriot Act was quad spaced and not all that long. Pols all lied when they said they had no time to read the damn thing.

    • jec jec

      Anyone worried about VENTING the containers (every 30 days to prevent explosions) down in the panel rooms of WIPP? No workers down there to do that..an accident just waiting to happen!!
      "workers will perform work on surface such as cleaning the waste hoist tower, which has not been cleaned since the fire", Comments welcome, but from my point of view, having radioactive material in drums that has to be vented monthly (SEE CONTRACT!!) is NOT good to have to do for 10,000 years. What happens, like it has, if people are not there to keep babysitting this mess? TERRIBLE design and thought process. Who was the genius who designed this?? Person needs the Darwin Award this year!!!

  • Nick


    No ceiling collapse, no evidence of where stuff came from, etc.

    Magic. Time to reopen WIPP.

    Why the fuss so far?

    Why the gag order?

    • jec jec

      Simple, WHERE is the full inventory of all containers with levels of radioactive materials inside? Where is the inventory for Scandia Labs TEST REACTOR located underground at WIPP? And what was that reactor (to incinerate high level radioactive waste) doing at the time just before the fire..and AFTER? What were the workers doing in the area where the fire started? Just a few questions that should be in the report..and its not there…

    • jec jec

      KILL me with flow charts!! So they spent several millions on software for flowcharting and training..to diagram out a table. Then put in tables, flow charts..in 342 pages of useless details to say..whoops.

      Am still reading it, but from an engineering point of view..this is useless. STUPID DOE Management–don't you know what REAL flow-charting is for?

  • Ontological Ontological

    15 years out of 10,000, not bad. NASA claimed 1 in 24,000 chance of a fatal shuttle accident. Real facts are 1 in 24.

    They will not reopen WIPP, they will simply put it in the sands of Mercury Nevada in the nuke turd kitty box. People here ARE pissed now!!! Look the hell out America!

    Fight these mindless idiots with all you have. These bastards want to frack the hell out of Nevada now, chase people off their long established ranches so there are no witnesses to the mindlessness of fracking.

  • Isn't it refreshing in what surprisingly straightforward and nonchalant fashion such news are showcased to the public ? These folks are simply amazing !

    What a brunch of a-holes ! Who wants to lick my charger ?


  • Nick


    Nuclear anything vent 24/7 into our biosphere and (at least) tritium is discharged into waterways.

    It is the great CON of the nuclearats that this is OKAY.

    Not until the children of the world cojoin via social media and light a hot, bright fire of truth, will the world realize the folly of splitting atoms.

    The drag is, I fear, deep in my cesium134/137 infected heart and bladder, my plutonium-laced testicles and lungs, and in my strontium-90 infested bones, that it is too late.

    Love for today. Cherish the past. Tomorrow is gone.

  • norbu norbu

    Jec I am sorry to hear that. Blessing to you and your family. "Something like this “wasn’t supposed to happen for 10,000 years”
    My opinion, something like this should not ever have happened. Love in every moment, we must fight for our right to live, I will not stop this fight…..

  • 52Rockwell

    And stop confusing people by talking about rems and sieverts and bequerels and curies.

    No she gave the units of contamination in DPM…I looked it up.
    Then she got a shit eating grin on her face when asked to explain what DPMS were .and opined "Oh,haha,,let me see if I can think of a simple way to explain this." anyway.Educate yourselves if you are gonna try and talk to ,or get a handle on these slimmy B"s ,they are pretty slippery.

  • Nick

    Tis time for TATAL tellers.

    Toxic at the Atomic Level.

    Ya don't need mill rems, sieverts, c p m s, d p m s, half-lives, bequerels, or curies to explain this
    BASIC absolutely true concept.

    Humans are simple minded beings; make it simple.


  • Sol Man

    20 days x 24hrs.=480 hrs. x average wind speed= miles traveled

    But, in which direction(s?)


  • demise demise

    Don't worry. You will get all the information and help you need from the most competent, transparent, responsible and truthful administration in history. (sac)

  • FXofTruth

    So I want to make sure I understand this.
    Something like this “wasn’t supposed to happen for 10,000 years”.

    Which means, if 30 years is equal to one (1) generation then, 10,000 years equals 333 GENERATIONS from now. So, 333 GENERATIONS from now an accident would happen that could potentially kill millions of our future children because these asses couldn't build a system that basically would be secure for 250,000 years to keep Plutonium under wraps.

    See, screwing around with this GUARANTEES death to the people that come after us because like the Pyramids, these people will not understand the symbols and language or comprehend the deadly danger our contaminated waste dumps contain. This whole foray into such an asinine energy source for total control of weapons and energy PROVES how monkey-brained the leadership, scientists, and corporate morons are to allow such stupidity to go forward.

    Total embarrassments of De-evolution.

  • West Aussie West Aussie

    Hi everyone! I've been reading you guys a lot and just had to write in with a thought or two. After many years of contemplation and trying to con-form myself into this economic reality of Central banks and the MIC, I have come to the conclusion that WW2 never ended. My reasons include;
    All modern wars are science and technology driven hence 'operation paperclip' to bring all the Nazi scientists to freedom in the West. Since that time, the late 1940's, there has been a continuous genocidal bombardment and inundation of our environment with gene destroying man-made fission products (Not to mention all the other man-made pollutants we've been creating for even longer).
    Most of our media lie to us and seem to be run by people with Fascist leanings. (Goebbels propagandists!)
    Corporations are forming themselves into a world governing structure that negates the Sovereignty of individuals and States. (Fascist dictatorship??) These are all just examples of modern 'scientific' warfare against humanity as far as I'm concerned. Hanford was built to fail (Weapon). Fukushima Daiichi NPP was built to fail (Weapon). All man-made structures eventually fail (Weaponize). You can't contain something that will out-live you. That's what fission products do. Outlive our containment structures (human fallibility or arrogance). Duhh!
    Makes me despair at times.

  • rogerthat

    Ned: ''Time to nationalize Big Nuke.''

    The liabilities were nationalized a long time ago. Not the profits ha ha

  • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

    Profits are just like precious…give me more precious..precious…precious…more give me.

  • Mack Mack

    "National standards for nuclear effluent"

    "§61.92 Standard.
    Emissions of radionuclides to the ambient air from Department of Energy facilities shall not exceed those amounts that would cause any member of the public to receive in any year an effective dose equivalent of 10 mrem/yr."


    10 mrem = 100 microsieverts

    Does anyone know if WIPP released more than 100 microsieverts?

  • Mike Lowery Mike Lowery

    If this wasn't supposed to happen in 10,000 years, then WTF do we have coming from this pit of death in the near future?! The 10,000 year calculation these morons use as an excuse has poisoned the area for the next ETERNITY! No threat to human health? Are these a-holes psychotic or what? Plutonium is 20 million times more deadly than the lethal uranium that gives anyone living in close proximity to a nuclear power plant things like thyroid cancer and leukemia at a rate hundreds of times higher than people who don't! This is MURDER pure and simple!

  • WIPP Radioactive Plutonium/Americium Plume Release Covered Up For Six Days, Researchers Denied Access; via @AGreenRoad

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