WIPP Expert: Nuclear waste is getting out above ground — Plutonium / Americium found in “every single worker” on site when leak began — New Mexico officials ‘totally unsatisfied’ with lack of info from Feds — “We don’t know how far away it’s gone” — Continuing threat for long time to come (AUDIO)

Published: March 5th, 2014 at 1:27 pm ET
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Interview with WIPP expert Don Hancock of Southwest Research and Information Center, Nuclear Hotseat with Libbe HaLevy, Feb. 25, 2014 (at 22:30 in):

  • Don Hancock, Southwest Research and Information Center: We don’t know how far away [contamination has] gone. That’s one of the questions that needs to be figured out.
  • Libbe HaLevy, host: What, if any, signs are there that the leak is ongoing?
  • Hancock: They still have amounts of radiation that they’re reading in the underground at WIPP. The DoE is saying that the filter system is 99.97% effective. We don’t know that that’s true because we don’t have laboratory results back, how much radioactivity those filters are actually catching. We are a long way from having all the sampling we need in the above ground to know how much is out. We can presume that minute amounts can still be coming out through the filter system even if the filter system is working perfectly. The filter system doesn’t work 100% perfect — 99.97%, if it is working that well is good, but that means there’s 0.03% that is getting out. So it will be a continuing problem until all of the contamination, both underground and above ground is cleaned up. [...] It’s a continuing potential threat to people for a long time to come.

Interview with WIPP expert Don Hancock of Southwest Research and Information Center, Nuclear Hotseat with Libbe HaLevy, Mar. 4, 2014:

  • Hancock (at 3:00 in): Apparently every single worker on the site when the alarm was triggered late night on Valentine’s Day Feb. 14 received internal dose […] at least 13 [have] confirmed internal radiation. So that bodes the possibility of some serious health consequences.
  • Hancock (at 11:00 in): The government has not been accurate in what it has said [….] The information flow has been bad. I know of nobody that thinks the information flow has been good. I was just on the phone in the last half hour with the New Mexico secretary of the environment department, the state official who is most responsible for the State’s activities at the WIPP site, and he was saying he is still totally unsatisfied with the lack of information the DoE is giving him and his regulatory agency — not to mention the further lack of information that the public is getting.

Feb. 25 interview hereMar. 4 interview here

Published: March 5th, 2014 at 1:27 pm ET
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