Saturday, May 17, 2014

US Department of Energy Releases Update on Radiation Leak at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico, Container with Broken Lid Identified

(UPDATE 5/20/2014) Possible culprit: kitty litter. See my new post.


And it was a container from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

The first report of radiation leak (plutonium) from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) that necessitated the evacuation of workers and plant shutdown was in February this year.

From Department of Energy WIPP Update (5/16/2014):

New Information Provided About Possible Contributor to the WIPP Radiological Event

The Department of Energy issued the following statement today regarding new information generated during the May 15 entry into WIPP:

Since the February 14 radiological release, the Department and its Waste Isolation Pilot Plant have been working deliberately to safely determine the cause of the release. The team that entered the underground facility yesterday was able to get additional visual evidence that shows a damaged waste container, identified as one from Los Alamos National Laboratory.

In the new pictures, the LANL container has a cracked lid and shows evidence of heat damage. Workers will continue investigating to determine what caused the container breach and if any other containers were involved or damaged,” said a DOE spokesperson.

Community Meetings Scheduled

May 20 – A WIPP Recovery update will be provided at the Economic Development Corporation of Lea County Annual Meeting. The update, which will be provided by a member of the NWP Communications team, is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Location: Hobbs Country Club, 5001 W. Carlsbad Highway.

May 22– The City of Carlsbad and DOE will co-host its weekly meeting featuring updates on WIPP recovery activities. The meeting is scheduled today at 5:30 p.m. Location: Carlsbad City Council Chambers, 101 N. Halagueno Street. Live streaming of the weekly meetings can be seen at

"Evidence of Damaged Drum in Panel 7, Room 7" from DOE WIPP "Photo and Video" section (more photos at the link):

"The May 15 entry into Panel 7, Room 7 produced this photo of a waste container (left) with its lid unsealed and apparent heat discoloration."

There is a video of re-entry to WIPP on May 15, 2014.

According to Japan's NHK reporting on the DOE update, it may take at least three years before the facility resumes operation.


Anonymous said...

What a bunch of crap.
First they tell us, no danger, only precautions, blabla.
And now they say it may take at leat three years till they can continue operation.
There must have been a real bad contamination, and we were lucky that it didn't reach the environment (or did it?).
This is a completely insane technology. We should have never started it.

Anonymous said...

Fluid streaking on the sides of the 2 barrels.

Anonymous said...

There's either forklift drivers who noted it when moving the barrels, or someone at Los Alamos knows their barrel filling is sloppy.

Anonymous said...

And since we're right at it, does anyone else find the MgO deposition from the bags to be a little "unusual"/unlikely?

Anonymous said...

Looks like they've been opening the MgO bags and pouring the MgO over the tops of the containers before forklifting them into place. The MgO then bonds with "fluid" on the exterior of the drums.

[sarc] Then, just before taking these pictures they vacuum away any MgO that leaves an impression of sloppiness. Hence the cone-shaped deposition patterns on container tops with no bags visible, and very little MgO near bottoms of containers despite marked cone shapes. [/sarc]

"The lab has taken a series of precautionary measures, the statement said, including packing the drums into special containers and moving them under a dome with a fire protection system. The lab is also monitoring the drums for any rise in temperature."

[sarc] The dome serves the double purpose of hindering airflow over the tops of the containers and drums while in transit on forklift preserving our "exquisite" cone shapes on container tops. [/sarc]

good comments,

Anonymous said...

Those images look like they were taken with an early 90's web camera or something... Also the picture of the worst burned drum doesn't even have digitally zoomed version available. Has there been any comments or explanation on why the damage would seem fairly widespread (although a position map of each image would help) but somehow appears to have only lasted short time and completely ceased by the time they entered there?

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