January 10, 2017
EL PASO HERALD POST
CARLSBAD, N.M. – Nuclear watchdog groups are criticizing the decision to reopen the underground storage areas of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, also known as WIPP, which closed after an accidental release of radioactive particles in February of 2014.
In that incident, a drum of nuclear waste burst and contaminated the area, affecting 21 workers.
Don Hancock, director of the nuclear waste program at the Southwest Research and Information Center in Albuquerque, says the decision to reopen the facility is premature.
STILL CONTAMINATED, PROBLEMS HAVE NOT BEEN FIXED.
“The facility was never designed to operate in a contaminated state,” Hancock said. “It was supposed to open clean and stay clean, but now it will have to operate dirty. Nobody at the Energy Department wants to consider the potential that it isn't fixable.”
“The areas that they’re putting waste in is contaminated, there’s not enough ventilation in the mine and there are extreme problems with what is typically called ground control, what citizens think of as ceilings collapsing and floors heaving,” he explained.
Hancock notes that these problems have not been fixed, and just last November tens of tons of salt collapsed in one of the rooms being considered for future storage of radioactive waste.
SETTLED FOR 'PEANUTS', MONEY USED UP.
Governor Susana Martinez attended the ribbon cutting, noting that her administration secured a $74 million settlement from the Department of Energy after this incident. Much of the money went to maintaining the roads around the facility in Carlsbad and near Los Alamos National Laboratory.
FEDS PAID NO FINE.
Jay Coughlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, notes that the feds paid no fines after the spill. And he thinks the storage areas at WIPP are still dangerous for workers.
“Operations at WIPP will remain significantly curtailed for the foreseeable future because of the contamination down there,” he said. “You know, workers are having to work in full protective suits and things are just going to be slow.”
The facility was built to accept what’s called transuranic waste, that is nuclear material that is a byproduct of man-made radioactive elements.
Hancock says within the next month officials at WIPP will decide which nuclear sites will be allowed to start shipping waste into the facility, at the rate of up to five shipments a week.
THEY JUST CAN'T MEET THE LOW STANDARDS SET BY THEIR PALS IN THE GOVERNMENT'S "NUCLEAR PROTECTION AGENCY", BUT THEY OPENED ANYWAY.
NOW, THEY WANT TO DO ILLEGAL 'EXPANSIONS'.
DOE is in a rush to re-open WIPP even though the facility cannot meet the previous operational and safety standards, let alone more stringent requirements that are necessary to prevent future accidents.
Stand Against The Rush To Re-Open An Unsafe WIPP.
The WIPP underground remains contaminated, so operations have to be greatly changed, including workers being dressed in 'ebola suits'.
Ventilation will not be restored to the pre-2014 levels until 2021 or later - the new system is not designed and how much it will cost is unknown.
Not only is DOE is rushing to re-open WIPP but ALSO wants to expand WIPP to other missions that are prohibited by law.
Contact New Mexico Senators Udall and Heinrich (and other elected officials) and ask them to stop the rush to re-open an unsafe WIPP. Ask them to require DOE to drop the expansion proposals and commit that WIPP will not be considered for high-level waste.
Ask them to have Congress reiterate that the WIPP law is not being changed to allow those expansions.
IT'S A TRAVESTY.
THERE IS SO MUCH NUCLEAR WASTE THAT OUR 'GOVERNMENT' IS WILLING TO RIK THE LIVES OF MILLIONS OF AMERICANS NEAR THAT ABOMINATION JUST TO STUFF THEIR RADIOACTIVE GARBAGE INTO HOLES THEY KNOW WILL COLLAPSE. THEY WERE TOLD NOT TO DIG OUT THAT THING AND WENT AHEAD ANYWAY.
THE AMERICAN PEOPLE SHOULD DEMAND IT BE CLOSED FOREVER.
AS ALWAYS, WE NEED TO GO TO THE LOCALS TO FIND OUT WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT THIS, AND THEY'RE STILL ASKING THE SAME QUESTIONS THAT HAVE GONE UNANSWERED FOR 3 YEARS NOW.
'CURRENT ARGUS'/USA TODAY NETWORK
Officials from the Department of Energy and Nuclear Waste Partnership had assured the Carlsbad community – a community that included the workers at the facility – that safety was their priority. As information about the incident became available, questions soon followed.
Who was to blame?
How do we fix it?
An improperly packaged container of nuclear waste shipped from Los Alamos National Laboratory had ruptured in the underground.
Radiation released from that drum was detected by a continuous air monitor, which are placed strategically around the facility for exactly this purpose.
It turns out kitty litter was to blame, as well as that guy who took improper notes.
ANSWERS IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND.
Three years and thousands of documents later, the fix came in the form of a clean up and stricter protocols for both WIPP and the sites that ship their waste for emplacement in the mine.
Other answers remained difficult, if not impossible to search out, despite hours dedicated to speaking with experts and multiple Freedom of Information Act requests.
Thirteen workers were believed exposed to plutonium and americium, though WIPP officials later said the danger of exposure was low.
The fact that WIPP personnel are undertaking a dangerous job is clearer than ever.
Millions of dollars have been spent in efforts to reopen the facility.
The latest price tag is $250 million.
Perhaps the costliest is the loss of trust and confidence in those agencies who oversee WIPP’s operations and in the mission the facility was created for: to provide safe, compliant and efficient characterization, transportation and disposal of defense-related TRU waste.
How do we go about rebuilding confidence in that mission and the role of WIPP?
THERE WAS A 'ROCK FALL' NEAR WORKERS INSIDE THE FACILITY BACK IN NOVEMBER.
IT WAS THE 4th ROCK FALL SINCE SEPTEMBER, 2016.
THE DAMNED CAVERNOUS THING IS FALLING DOWN, JUST AS THEY WERE TOLD IT WOULD.
THE OTHER FALLS WERE IN AREAS DEEMED "UNSAFE FOR WORKERS", SO WHY ARE THEY THINKING OF STORING THE HOTTEST NUKE WASTE ON EARTH DOWN THERE?
THEY'RE PLANNING TO LOAD WASTE INTO PANEL 7 SOON BUT THEY JUST INTENTIONALLY COLLAPSED THE "ROOF" IN THERE IN OCTOBER, 2016!
THIS IS MADNESS!
NOV. 4, 2016
CARLSBAD — A suspected rock fall was reported underground at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant on Thursday.
This time, however, the rock fall occurred in an area near Panel 7 - where employees are currently working to ready the panel for waste emplacement.
No one was injured and there was no radiological release.
According to a news release from WIPP, employees working near Panel 7 heard a loud noise and saw a cloud of salt dust...
Workers in the underground were evacuated.
Department of Energy spokesman Tim Runyon said the evacuation went smoothly and all workers had exited the mine within an hour of the order to evacuate.
He was unsure of how many workers were evacuated.
IS HE SURE OF ANYTHING, ANYTHING AT ALL?
WIPP announced they would abandon the south end of the mine last month.ABANDON IT ALL, BECAUSE IT'S CAVING IN.
PANEL 7 FALLS AGAIN, AND AGAIN...
Waste emplacement was expected to begin in Panel 7 when WIPP reopens.
A controlled roof collapse was performed in Panel 7 in October on an unstable portion of the roof.
Runyon declined to speculate on whether the current rock fall will affect WIPP's reopening date.
WIPP has been scrambling to keep up with maintaining the mine's infrastructure since they resumed ground control operations in November 2014, nine months after the underground was closed due to a fire and radiological release in early 2014.
A FEW IN CONGRESS WANTED TO SHUT THE THING DOWN WHEN THE ACCIDENT HAPPENED IN 2014, BUT MONEY TALKS AND THE CRY OF "WIPP PROVIDES INCOME TO THE COMMUNITY" AND THE WHINE THAT SHUTTING DOWN ONE WOULD DESTROY AMERICA'S 'FAITH' IN NUCLEAR ENERGY DROWNED OUT REASON AND RIGHT.
There were men and women in Congress who feared it might be time to pull the plug on WIPP – that the political ramifications of a radiological leak, no matter how small and isolated that leak actually was, were simply too great.
THE L.A. TIMES DID A FAIR JOB REPORTING THE CON GAME GOING ON IN CARLSBAD:
AUG. 22, 2016
When a drum containing radioactive waste blew up in an underground nuclear dump in New Mexico two years ago, the Energy Department rushed to quell concerns in the Carlsbad desert community and quickly reported progress on resuming operations.
The early federal statements gave no hint that the blast had caused massive long-term damage to the dump, a facility crucial to the nuclear weapons cleanup program that spans the nation, or that it would jeopardize the Energy Department’s credibility in dealing with the tricky problem of radioactive waste.
But the explosion ranks among the costliest nuclear accidents in U.S. history, according to a Times analysis.
$2 BILLION, BUT NO FIX!
The long-term cost of the mishap could top $2 billion, an amount roughly in the range of the cleanup after the 1979 partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania.
WASTE BACKED-UP ALL OVER AMERICA, THOUSANDS OF TONS OF RADIOACTIVE WASTE IMPROPERLY 'STORED'...AS IN STACKED AND WAITING.
The Feb. 14, 2014, accident is also complicating cleanup programs at about a dozen current and former nuclear weapons sites across the U.S.
Thousands of tons of radioactive waste that were headed for the dump are backed up in Idaho, Washington, New Mexico and elsewhere, state officials said in interviews.
Washington state officials were recently forced to accept delays in moving the equivalent of 24,000 drums of nuclear waste from Hanford site to the New Mexico dump.
“The federal government has an obligation to clean up the nuclear waste at Hanford,” Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement. “I will continue to press them to honor their commitments to protect Washingtonians' public health and our natural resources.”
HANFORD HAS BEEN NAMED THE MOST RADIOACTIVE SITE ON EARTH...UNTIL FUKUSHIMA...
The deal has further antagonized the relationship between the state and federal regulators.
IDAHO IS PRESSING.
Other states are no less insistent. The Energy Department has agreed to move the equivalent of nearly 200,000 drums from Idaho National Laboratory by 2018.
“Our expectation is that they will continue to meet the settlement agreement,” said Susan Burke, an oversight coordinator at the state’s Department of Environmental Quality.
A DUMP LIKE NO OTHER IS STILL A DUMP.
The dump, officially known as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, was designed to place waste from nuclear weapons production since World War II into ancient salt beds, which engineers say will collapse around the waste and permanently seal it.
THEY NEGLECTED WARNINGS THAT SAID IT WOULD COLLAPSE PREMATURELY.
The equivalent of 277,000 drums of radioactive waste is headed to the dump, according to federal documents.
DOWNPLAYING THE ACCIDENT
“There is no question the Energy Department has downplayed the significance of the accident,” said Don Hancock, who monitors the dump for the watchdog group Southwest Research and Information Center.
Though the error at the Los Alamos lab caused the accident, a federal investigation found more than two dozen safety lapses at the dump.
The dump’s filtration system was supposed to prevent any radioactive releases, but it malfunctioned.
Twenty-one workers on the surface received low doses of radiation.
[SO "LOW" THAT MORE THAN HALF WERE HOSPITALIZED WITH POSSIBLE RADIATION SICKNESS, REMEMBER?]
EVERYBODY DECLINED TO COMMENT TO THE L.A. TIMES... WONDER WHY?
An Energy Department spokesperson declined to address the cost issue.
Energy Department officials declined to be interviewed about the incident but agreed to respond to written questions.
The dump is operated by Nuclear Waste Partnership, which is led by the Los Angeles-based engineering firm AECOM.
The company declined to comment.
The direct cost of the cleanup is now $640 million, based on a contract modification made last month with Nuclear Waste Partnership that increased the cost from $1.3 billion to nearly $2 billion. The cost-plus contract leaves open the possibility of even higher costs as repairs continue. And it does not include the complete replacement of the contaminated ventilation system or any future costs of operating the mine longer than originally planned.
BUT TOTAL COSTS FOR ALL FACILITIES TO CLEAN UP THEIR RADIOACTIVE GARBAGE RUNS INTO THE TENS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS.
Other radioactive contamination at nuclear weapons sites is costing tens of billions of dollars to clean up, but it is generally the result of deliberate practices such as dumping radioactive waste into the ground.
James Conca, a consultant who has advised the Energy Department on nuclear waste issues says the demand to replace the filtration system is excessive.
“It got contaminated, but a new exhaust shaft is kind of ridiculous,” he said.
THAT'S RIGHT, JIMMY, GO CHEAP SO PEOPLE DOWNWIND CAN FEEL THE BURN, NOT THE DAMNABLE NUKE BOYS.
TOO MUCH NUKE WASTE, WIPP HAS TO OPEN "DIRTY".
Giving up on the New Mexico dump would have huge environmental, legal and political ramifications. This year the Energy Department decided to dilute 6 metric tons of surplus plutonium in South Carolina and send it to the dump, potentially setting a precedent for disposing of bomb-grade materials. The U.S. has agreements with Russia on mutual reductions of plutonium.
The decision means operations at the dump must resume, said Edwin Lyman, a physicist and nuclear expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“They have no choice,” he said. “No matter what it costs.”
[They have a choice...to end it all, to simply shut it all down, but it would cost them too much and they are a greedy batch of whores.]
The waste container that ultimately burst would not have met federal transportation standards to get on the road from Los Alamos to Carlsbad, nor would it have been accepted at WIPP, if its true ingredients had been reported by the lab.
MOTIVATED BY PROFIT.
As its report takes shape, the federal board is exploring what role LANL contractors’ profit motive and the rush to meet the deadline imposed by the state Environment Department — a key objective necessary to fully extend its lucrative contract — played in the missteps that caused the leak.
INTERNAL MEMOS ABOUT PATENTED EXPLOSIVE IN THE BARREL WERE HUSHED.
A patented explosive WAS shipped in that barrel!
More than three months after the leak, LANL chemist Steve Clemmons compared the ingredients of the drum, labeled Waste Drum 68660, to a database of federal patents and found that together, the drum’s contents match the makeup of patented plastic, water-gel and slurry explosives, according to a memo.
“All of the required components included in the patent claims would be present,” Clemmons wrote in the May 21 memo.
Personnel at WIPP were oblivious to Clemmons’ discovery for nearly a week after he made it. Only after a Department of Energy employee leaked a copy of the memo to a colleague in Carlsbad the night before a planned entry into the room that held the ruptured drum did WIPP get word that it could be dealing with explosive components inside Waste Drum 68660.
“Have you heard that we at the lab have confirmed that the material used in the drum DOES create an explosive mixture????” James O’Neil of the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration wrote May 27 to Hung-Cheng Chiou, who works at the Department of Energy’s Carlsbad Field Office.
In a follow-up email, O’Neil clarified what he meant: “A letter from the LANL chemistry group here … stated that putting the type of kitty litter of sorts mixed with the nitrate salts created a patented explosive mixture.”
“Wow, that is the news to me,” Chiou wrote back. “How can the explosive mixture be in the drum content that could be sent to WIPP?”
O’Neil expressed his own surprise that such a dangerous load was allowed to be shipped to WIPP.
“Not sure how [that] type drum, which does not meet WIPP [waste acceptance criteria] even got shipped to you guys,” he wrote.
From there, word of the memo reached managers at WIPP.
“I am appalled that LANL didn’t provide us this information!” Dana Bryson, deputy manager of the Department of Energy’s Carlsbad Field Office, wrote in an email to WIPP-based field office manager Jose Franco and others when she learned of the memo.
AND I AM APPALLED THAT THE DOE IS ONCE AGAIN SUBJECTING AMERICAN CITIZENS TO THE KNOWN CONTINUED FAILURE OF WIPP TO COMPLY TO INDUSTRY STANDARDS, SORRY AND WORTHLESS AS THOSE STANDARDS ARE.
BETTER TO RISK HUMAN LIVES THAN SPEND MEGA-BUCKS TO FIX ANYTHING OR ASSURE THE SAFETY OF THOSE NEAR SUCH RUNDOWN, FAILING DISASTERS WAITING TO HAPPEN.
DAMN YOU, DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY.
DAMN YOU NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION.
DAMN EVERY CONGRESSMAN AND PRESIDENT WHO HAS ALLOWED, EVEN PUSHED FOR "MORE NUKES" AND A BIGGER NUCLEAR INDUSTRY.
AND DAMN EVERY SCIENTIST WHO GAVE US "THE BOMB" AND EVERY NUCLEAR ENERGY CEO WHO RUNS A "LEAKER", AND THEY ALL LEAK.
YOU KNEW BETTER, YOU ALWAYS KNEW IT WOULD COME TO THIS, BUT GREED AND THE NEED FOR "POWER" DROVE YOU TO DO WHAT YOU'VE DONE TO ALL HUMANS ON PLANET EARTH.
IT'S NO LONGER BOMBS WE NEED TO FEAR....IT'S ALL OF YOU WHO TELL US NUCLEAR ENERGY IS CLEAN AND SAFE AND THAT WE MUST HAVE NUCLEAR WEAPONS, YOU WHO IGNORE SAFETY AND LOBBY FOR NO REGULATIONS, ALL WHO MAKE EXCUSES AND PROVIDE COVERUPS FOR ONE ANOTHER.
HELL IS NOT HOT ENOUGH FOR SUCH LIARS AND POTENTIAL MURDERERS.