ENOUGH ¡BASTA! Say No to High Level Nuclear Waste Dumping in New Mexico

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WIPP – Coming Clean on a Dirty Bomb – Liars and Scape Goats and Public Relations Agents, Oh my!

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Independent review of WIPP leak is warranted
By Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board – 27 Nov.14

The blame game over this year’s radiation leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is heating up, so it is important at this time to have someone who is not part of the federal government monitor the situation.

The New Mexico Environment Department is seeking an independent review of the incident near Carlsbad that contaminated 22 workers and shut down operations indefinitely at the nation’s only underground nuclear materials repository. It’s estimated it could cost more than $500 million to resume full operations, which could take years.

The U.S. Department of Energy, which has been doing its own investigation, has agreed to fund a “peer review”led by physicist Van Romero, New Mexico Tech’s vice president for research and economic development. The DOE will share its findings with Romero. The
Environment Department also is investigating regulatory and communications issues.

Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn said an independent review is “critical to giving the public confidence that we have in fact established exactly what has occurred.” He is right.

DOE and lab officials have recently been trading accusations about who’s at fault. A DOE inspector general’s report blamed the leak on lab failures. The department’s Office of Enterprise Assessment also is investigating the lab’s role.

Amid the finger pointing, and in light of potentially hefty state fines, Flynn said a DOE official has suggested money to pay for state fines would come out of what the federal government provides for the ongoing cleanup at Los Alamos, essentially punishing New Mexicans who deservedly benefit from restoring that environment.

The state is right to seek an independent review of DOE’s internal investigation, and any results that can be revealed should be quickly made available to the public. If state fines are warranted due to bad acting, they should be paid with new money.

New Mexico acted in the best interests of the entire nation in its acceptance of some of the detritus of federal nuclear programs. Its people deserve to know that decision poses no unnecessary hazards.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers. …source (http://www NULL.abqjournal NULL.com/502398/opinion/independent-review-of-wipp-leak-is-warranted NULL.html)

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November 30, 2014   Add Comments

WIPP “death barrels” a potential “ticking nuclear bomb” – Workers Sent Underground Anyway

“If such an event were to occur again with workers present, the effected [sic] waste drum and adjacent drums could reach hundreds of degrees C [Celsius],”… “There are some of the infracted LANL drums located close to the exhaust drift bulkhead, and therefore would be in close proximity to workers.”

“Because of the mixture of organics (fuel) and nitrate salts (oxidizer) in these drums, they continue to pose a hazard,”

The high temperatures in the room “may have dried out some of the unreacted oxidizer-organic mixtures increasing their potential for spontaneous reaction,” the report states. “This dehydration of the fuel-oxidizer mixtures caused by the heating of the drums is recognized as a condition known to increase the potential for reaction.”

deathbarrels.

Emails raise questions about risks to WIPP workers sent underground
By Patrick Malone – The New Mexican – 29 Nov.14

U.S. Department of Energy officials say they have conducted numerous safety assessments of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad since a nuclear waste drum burst there Feb. 14. But none of those assessments has been made public, even as the plant’s operators send growing numbers of workers back into the nation’s only underground nuclear waste repository.

Officials with the Energy Department and Nuclear Waste Partnership, the private consortium that operates the repository, say they are taking abundant precautions to ensure their workers and the public are safe.

But emails and documents obtained by The New Mexican describing safety assessments in May, June and July raise questions about the stability of dozens of other nuclear waste drums that were in the same chamber as the drum that ruptured. More recent WIPP safety assessments have not been released, even to the union representing more than 300 WIPP workers.

“We don’t know how safe WIPP is, even in the short run of the current underground activities,” Don Hancock, an analyst with the Southwest Research and Information Center, which closely monitors WIPP, said after reviewing the documents.

The Feb. 14 accident happened when a chemical reaction inside the drum caused it to rupture. Radiation leaked into the air, and temperatures in the underground chamber peaked at nearly 1,600 degrees. More than 20 workers were exposed to what the Energy Department has described as low levels of radiation. Department officials say it could cost $550 million and take up to five years to fully reopen the facility.

While federal officials have yet to isolate what sparked the reaction, The New Mexican reported this month that workers at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where the drum originated, improperly used acid neutralizers and organic kitty litter that created a volatile combination when mixed with highly acidic nitrate salts in the waste. One internal lab report described the mix as similar to plastic explosives.

Lab officials say that exact combination of ingredients was isolated to one drum. And after “exhaustive scientific testing,” officials say they have dismissed the hypothesis that the explosive nature of the ingredients caused the reaction.

But even the organic kitty litter — which the lab began using regularly in 2012 to absorb excess liquid in potentially hundreds of drums now stored at WIPP — presents a problem because it can act as fuel in the event of another reaction. Investigators believe the organic material may be one reason temperatures in the chamber rose so high.

The lab has not explained why it began using organic kitty litter instead of the more inert clay-based variety, but there is some speculation among lab and WIPP officials that it may have been caused by a typographical error inserted into a waste-handling manual back in 2012.

Internal emails between WIPP contractors detail concerns about the stability of drums potentially containing the organic material that became exposed to the extreme temperatures. The emails were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

“If such an event were to occur again with workers present, the effected [sic] waste drum and adjacent drums could reach hundreds of degrees C [Celsius],” John Menna, a WIPP contractor involved in the post-burst safety analysis, wrote in an email dated June 20 to the plant’s operators. “There are some of the infracted LANL drums located close to the exhaust drift bulkhead, and therefore would be in close proximity to workers.”

Attached to Menna’s email was a June 17 draft of a LANL report that suggested the high temperatures may have made other nuclear waste drums in the chamber more unstable than ever.

“Because of the mixture of organics (fuel) and nitrate salts (oxidizer) in these drums, they continue to pose a hazard,” said the report by Christopher J. Chancellor of LANL’s Carlsbad operations section, referring to 55 additional drums of similar waste stored near the one that ruptured.

The high temperatures in the room “may have dried out some of the unreacted oxidizer-organic mixtures increasing their potential for spontaneous reaction,” the report states. “This dehydration of the fuel-oxidizer mixtures caused by the heating of the drums is recognized as a condition known to increase the potential for reaction.”
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November 30, 2014   Add Comments

LANL, DOE misdirection, lies, cover-up make them discreditable partners to WIPP

While the “kitty litter theory” is widely thought to be behind the explosion and radiation leak at WIPP it is only a theory, a plausible fiction, never having been proved by Scientists who worked for months trying to reproduce the results. The press is irresponsible in stating the “kitty litter theory” as the factual cause of the disaster at WIPP. no2wipp

nomorelies

Documents and internal emails show that even after the radiation leak, lab officials downplayed the dangers of the waste — even to the Carlsbad managers whose staff members were endangered by its presence — and withheld critical information from regulators and WIPP officials investigating the leak.

LANL officials downplayed waste’s dangers even after WIPP leak
By Patrick Malone – 15 Nov.14 – The New Mexican

In the summer of 2012, Gov. Susana Martinez visited the hilltop facilities of Los Alamos National Laboratory to commemorate a milestone. The lab, under an agreement with the state, had just shipped its 1,000th truckload of Cold War-era nuclear waste from the grounds of Los Alamos to a salt cavern deep under the Southern New Mexico desert.

The achievement meant the lab was well on its way to meeting a June 30, 2014, deadline imposed by Martinez to remove radioactive gloves, machinery and other equipment left over from decades of nuclear weapons research.

For Los Alamos National Security LLC, the private consortium that operates the lab, the stakes were high. Meeting the deadline would help it secure an extension of its $2.2 billion annual contract from the U.S. Department of Energy.

But the following summer, workers packaging the waste came across a batch that was extraordinarily acidic, making it unsafe for shipping. The lab’s guidelines called for work to shut down while the batch underwent a rigid set of reviews to determine how to treat it, a time-consuming process that jeopardized the lab’s goal of meeting the deadline.

Instead, the lab and its various contractors took shortcuts in treating the acidic nuclear waste, adding neutralizer and a wheat-based organic kitty litter to absorb excess liquid. The combination turned the waste into a potential bomb that one lab chemist later characterized as akin to plastic explosives, according to a six-month investigation by The New Mexican.

The lab then shipped a 55-gallon drum of the volatile material 330 miles to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the nation’s only underground repository for nuclear waste, southeast of Carlsbad. Documents accompanying the drum, which were supposed to include a detailed description of its contents, were deeply flawed. They made no mention of the acidity or the neutralizer, and they mischaracterized the kitty litter as a clay-based material — not the more combustible organic variety that most chemists would have recognized as hazardous if mixed with waste laden with nitrate salts, according to interviews and a review of thousands of pages of documents and internal emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

On Feb. 14, with the campaign to clear the waste from Los Alamos more than 90 percent complete, the drum’s lid cracked open. Radiation leaked into the air. Temperatures in the underground chamber soared to 1,600 degrees, threatening dozens of nearby drums. At least 20 workers were contaminated with what federal officials have described as low levels of radiation — though one worker has filed a lawsuit saying his health has drastically deteriorated due to radiation exposure.

The facility, meanwhile, remains shut down as an estimated $500 million recovery effort expected to last several years gets underway, leaving thousands of containers of nuclear waste destined for WIPP stranded at national laboratories across the country.

Documents and internal emails show that even after the radiation leak, lab officials downplayed the dangers of the waste — even to the Carlsbad managers whose staff members were endangered by its presence — and withheld critical information from regulators and WIPP officials investigating the leak. Internal emails, harshly worded at times, convey a tone of exasperation with LANL from WIPP personnel, primarily employees of the Department of Energy and Nuclear Waste Partnership, the contractor that operates the repository. …more (http://www NULL.santafenewmexican NULL.com/news/local_news/lanl-officials-downplayed-waste-s-dangers-even-after-wipp-leak/article_54d7f3d2-8c99-5793-8c17-c4bdb0b72ef1 NULL.html# NULL.VGixSmQLZuo NULL.email)

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November 16, 2014   Add Comments

Civilian Cancer Deaths Expected to Skyrocket Following Radiological Incidents

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WHITE HOUSE APPROVES RADICAL RADIATION CLEANUP ROLLBACK

Civilian Cancer Deaths Expected to Skyrocket Following Radiological Incidents

8 Apr.13 – Public Employees for Environmental Responsiblity

Washington, DC — The White House has given final approval for dramatically raising permissible radioactive levels in drinking water and soil following “radiological incidents,” such as nuclear power-plant accidents and dirty bombs. The final version, slated for Federal Register publication as soon as today, is a win for the nuclear industry which seeks what its proponents call a “new normal” for radiation exposure among the U.S population, according Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, the radiation guides (called Protective Action Guides or PAGs) allow cleanup many times more lax than anything EPA has ever before accepted. These guides govern evacuations, shelter-in-place orders, food restrictions and other actions following a wide range of “radiological emergencies.” The Obama administration blocked a version of these PAGs from going into effect during its first days in office. The version given approval late last Friday is substantially similar to those proposed under Bush but duck some of the most controversial aspects:

In soil, the PAGs allow long-term public exposure to radiation in amounts as high as 2,000 millirems. This would, in effect, increase a longstanding 1 in 10,000 person cancer rate to a rate of 1 in 23 persons exposed over a 30-year period;

– In water, the PAGs punt on an exact new standard and EPA “continues to seek input on this.” But the thrust of the PAGs is to give on-site authorities much greater “flexibility” in setting aside established limits; and

– Resolves an internal fight inside EPA between nuclear versus public health specialists in favor of the former. The PAGs are the product of Gina McCarthy, the assistant administrator for air and radiation whose nomination to serve as EPA Administrator is taken up this week by the Senate.

– Despite the years-long internal fight, this is the first public official display of these guides. This takes place as Japan grapples with these same issues in the two years following its Fukushima nuclear disaster.

“This is a public health policy only Dr. Strangelove could embrace. If this typifies the environmental leadership we can expect from Ms. McCarthy, then EPA is in for a long, dirty slog,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the EPA package lacks a cogent rationale, is largely impenetrable and hinges on a series of euphemistic “weasel words.” “No compelling justification is offered for increasing the cancer deaths of Americans innocently exposed to corporate miscalculations several hundred-fold.”

Reportedly, the PAGs had been approved last fall but their publication was held until after the presidential election. The rationale for timing their release right before McCarthy’s confirmation hearing is unclear.

Since the PAGs guide agency decision-making and do not formally set standards or repeal statutory requirements, such as the Safe Drinking Water Act and Superfund, they will go into full effect following a short public comment period. Nonetheless, the PAGs will likely determine what actions take place on the ground in the days, weeks, months and, in some cases, years following a radiological emergency. …source (http://www NULL.peer NULL.org/news/news-releases/2013/04/08/white-house-approves-radical-radiation-cleanup-rollback/)

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November 11, 2014   Add Comments

WIPP still leaking Radiation – double speak boasts, “mine 60% “accessible”, no mention decontamination, fixing NOT Started

rollback

WIPP: More than 60 percent of underground accessible
By Sarah Matott – Carlsbad Current Argus – 7 Nov.14

More than 60 percent of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’s underground is now accessible, almost eight months after last year’s incident in February, officials said on Thursday.

The overall progress at WIPP was updated during a public meeting, that included Nuclear Waste Partnership officials and representatives from the New Mexico Environment Department.

Nuclear Waste Partnership Deputy Recovery Manager Tammy Reynolds said more than 60 percent of the underground has now been rolled back in areas, giving the workers safe access. One of the key focuses now is the cleaning of the electrical components in these areas.

Reynolds also said that there are now personnel going into the underground, but that number is limited to 24 people due to the condition of the waste hoist.

Despite the waste hoist being repaired it is only used for equipment at this moment, Reynolds said.

Tim Runyon, of the WIPP Recovery Communications, said there are additional inspections required on the steel cables in order for people to began using the waste hoist.

Reynolds said that a new small, but measurable amount of radiation was detected, due to some work on the underground fan.

However, sample locations showed that the range of the detection was low and would have no harm on the environment or anyone.

Runyon said WIPP officials were expecting a small radiation leak to happen just by simply starting the fan back up.

“The amount that was detected was actually a lot less then what we expected,” Runyon said.

Also, areas of the underground has been categorized allowing workers to know if they have to wear radiological protective clothes and equipment in particular areas, Reynolds said. …more (http://www NULL.currentargus NULL.com/carlsbad-news/ci_26894497/wipp-update)

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November 11, 2014   Add Comments

The Unist’ot’en Camp, Resistance as Inspiration

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November 10, 2014   Add Comments

Killing us softly with Nukes to secure their Perpetual Wars

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Obama Increases Nuclear Weapons Production and Research
Noel Brinkerhoff – 27 Oct.14 – AllGov

The U.S. nuclear weapons complex is greatly expanding the production of fissile cores to levels not seen since the end of the Cold War three decades ago.

The dramatic increase comes as part of a long-term billion-dollar effort to renew the nuclear arsenal under President Barack Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize largely because of his promise to greatly reduce the nation’s stockpile of these weapons—a promise he has not kept.

Instead, the Department of Energy, which oversees the nuclear weapons laboratories, is planning to produce 80 explosive plutonium cores—the key to every warhead—a year by 2030, according to The Guardian. The U.S. hasn’t needed this level of production since it was facing nuclear Armageddon with the former Soviet Union last century.

Over the next decade, the federal government plans to spend $355 billion modernizing the nuclear arsenal even though there are 15,000 cores in reserve in a Texas facility.

“I’ve never seen the justification articulated for the 50-80 pits per year by 2030,” James Doyle, a former scientist in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Division at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, said. Doyle was fired last summer for publishing an article that urged nuclear disarmament, even though the laboratory had approved the article for publication.

The commitment to build more cores stands in stark contrast to Obama’s declaration after taking over the White House in 2009 to cut the stockpile from 5,113 warheads to 1,500 by 2016. Only 309 weapons have been destroyed under his watch. His predecessor, George W. Bush, “cut the nuclear stockpile in half during his eight years in office,” Caty Enders at The Guardian reported.

Plans to expand nuclear weapons production come at a time when the Energy Department is still recovering from a significant accident earlier this year at the nation’s only repository for nuclear weapons waste. The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico has been closed since February, when a drum of radioactive waste exploded and exposed 22 workers to radiation. …source (http://www NULL.allgov NULL.com/news/where-is-the-money-going/obama-increases-nuclear-weapons-production-and-research-141027?news=854648)

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November 9, 2014   Add Comments

Rekindling the flames of ‘Cold War’

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New Cold War coming, Mikhail Gorbachev says
UPI – 8 Nov.14

BERLIN, Nov. 8 (UPI) — In a public address to mark this weekend’s 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the former leader of the Soviet Union said the world could soon experience another Cold War.

At an event near Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, Mikhail Gorbachev said there are heightened tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine, which had been part of the Soviet Union.

“The world is on the brink of a new Cold War. Some are even saying that it’s already begun,” Gorbachev said.

He accused the West, and the U.S. in particular, of succumbing to “triumphalism” following the 1991 collapse of the USSR.

Gorbachev, 83, advocated for Western governments to build a new trust with Moscow through dialogue and urged the lifting of sanctions enacted against senior Russian officials because of the country’s action in eastern Ukraine.

There have been thousands of deaths in Ukraine since April when pro-Russian separatists took control in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Gorbachev’s reforms when he was leader of the Soviet Union paved the way for the collapse of communism in eastern Europe and ultimately the Nov. 9, 1989 opening of the borders between East and West Berlin.

Sunday’s anniversary includes a musical concert, fireworks and speeches by leading figures including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the former president of Poland, Lech Walesa. …source (http://www NULL.upi NULL.com/Top_News/World-News/2014/11/08/New-Cold-War-coming-Mikhail-Gorbachev-says/8181415465292/)

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November 9, 2014   Add Comments

WIPP Symptomatic of the failed and crumbling foundation of US “Nuclear System”

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Foundation of US nuclear system showing cracks

By ROBERT BURNS – AP National Security Writer – 9 Nov.14

WASHINGTON (AP) — The foundation of America’s nuclear arsenal is fractured, and the government has no clear plan to repair it.

The cracks appear not just in the military forces equipped with nuclear weapons but also in the civilian bureaucracy that controls them, justifies their cost, plans their future and is responsible for explaining a defense policy that says nuclear weapons are at once essential and excessive.

It’s not clear that the government recognizes the full scope of the problem, which has wormed its way to the core of the nuclear weapons business without disturbing bureaucracies fixated on defending their own turf. Nor has it aroused the public, which may think nuclear weapons are relics of the past, if it thinks about them at all.

This is not mainly about the safety of today’s weapons, although the Air Force’s nuclear missile corps has suffered failures in discipline, training, morale and leadership over the past two years. Just last week the Air Force fired nuclear commanders at two of its three missile bases for misconduct and disciplined a third commander.

Rather, this is about a broader problem: The erosion of the government’s ability to manage and sustain its nuclear “enterprise,” the intricate network of machines, brains and organizations that enables America to call itself a nuclear superpower.

What have been slipping are certain key building blocks – technical expertise, modern facilities and executive oversight on the civilian side, and discipline, morale and accountability on the military side.

The shortfalls are compounded by tight budgets and what experts call a decline in political support for the nuclear system. In the absence of a headline-grabbing nuclear accident in recent decades and receding fears of nuclear war, these problems generally are paid little heed.

The scientific and military capability is arguably the best in the world, but its underpinnings have weakened gradually.

The White House and Congress have paid little attention, allowing the responsible government agencies to “muddle through,” according to a congressional advisory panel. This is the case despite the fact that the U.S. still has thousands of nuclear weapons – more than it says it needs – and is approaching decision points on investing enormous sums to keep the arsenal viable for future generations.

“This lack of attention has resulted in public confusion, congressional distrust and a serious erosion of advocacy, expertise and proficiency in the sustainment” of the nation’s nuclear weapons capabilities, the panel on “Governance of the Nuclear Security Enterprise” said in a report in April that is expected to be updated soon. …more (http://hosted NULL.ap NULL.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_NUCLEAR_DYSFUNCTION)

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November 9, 2014   Add Comments

WIPP “Recovery Cost” and Time will rival that of Three Mile Island


The cleanup at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant has ended after 14 years with a final puff of radioactive steam from the evaporator used to get rid of contaminated water from the 1979 accident.

The total cost of the cleanup was put at $1 billion. Unit No. 1 was restarted in 1985 and will be monitored until it and its twin reactor are decommissioned in 2014. NYT – Aug.93 (http://www NULL.nytimes NULL.com/1993/08/15/us/14-year-cleanup-at-three-mile-island-concludes NULL.html)

Cost of reviving WIPP after leak could top $500 million
Patrick Malone – The Santa Fe New Mexican – 1 Oct.14

The U.S. Department of Energy aims to reopen the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, at least partially, by April 2016, according to a recovery plan unveiled Tuesday. But full resumption of operations at the underground nuclear waste repository might have to wait up to five years, federal officials said.

The estimated cost of bringing WIPP back to life could top $500 million, according to the report. WIPP stopped receiving waste shipments in February, when a truck fire followed by a radiation leak happened within days of each other.

“DOE is committed to reopening WIPP,” Mark Whitney, the department’s acting assistant secretary of environmental management, told reporters Tuesday. He acknowledged the “aggressive plan” seeks to open the waste storage facility sooner than many early estimates, which suggested WIPP would be closed until 2017 or beyond.

But a nuclear watchdog that closely monitors WIPP questioned whether the Energy Department has underestimated the time it will take to resume operations and understated the cost.

“Thirty-five years ago, DOE was saying WIPP was going to be open by the mid-’80s. Then 25 years ago, in the late ’80s, they were saying WIPP was going to be open in the early ’90s, and it didn’t open until 1999,” said Don Hancock, director of the nuclear waste safety program at the Southwest Research and Information Center. “They weren’t realistically looking at what it was going to take to open WIPP then, and now they’re not being realistic about when it will reopen. It will take a lot longer than that, and it’s going to cost a lot more than they’re saying.”

…more (http://bakken NULL.com/news/id/222328/cost-reviving-wipp-leak-top-500-million/)

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October 13, 2014   Add Comments

People Near WIPP Site destine to become New Generation of New Mexico Downwinders

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…more (http://childrenofthebomb NULL.blogspot NULL.com/)

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October 13, 2014   Add Comments

WIPP holds 171,000 waste containers, they are exploding and 7 months on NO ONE KNOWS WHY

WIPP now holds more than 171,000 waste containers containing approximately 4.9 metric tons of plutonium. With a total cost that the Energy Department estimates at $7.2 billion, WIPP employs some 800 workers. The site involves an ongoing mining operation in which salt is loaded on trucks and conveyed to the surface, to other trucks that dump it in a disposal area. The floor space of the mine is designed to be substantially larger than the Pentagon’s. Waste packages are disposed in a 100-acre area that includes seven “rooms—each with a footprint as large as three football fields—carved out of the salt formation in the deep mine.

The WIPP problem, and what it means for defense nuclear waste disposal
Robert Alvarez – 23 Mar.14 – The Bulletin of Atomic Scientist

“It’s a surprise when there are no surprises,” a cleanup worker told me a few years ago at the Hanford site in Washington state, once the world’s largest producer of plutonium for nuclear weapons and now home to a massive effort to stop leaking nuclear waste tanks from poisoning the Columbia River. This maxim can hold painfully true for a variety of events assigned an extremely small chance of happening. On February 4, 2014, assumptions of very low probability crumbled at the Energy Department’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico, when a fire in a large salt truck raged for hours, deep underground.

Ten days later, an even more unlikely accident happened: Wastes containing plutonium blew through the WIPP ventilation system, traveling 2,150 feet to the surface, contaminating at least 17 workers, and spreading small amounts of radioactive material into the environment.

More than a month after the fire, WIPP remains closed, and what happened underground remains unclear. It is not known whether the leak and the truck fire are connected; a waste-drum explosion or the collapse of a roof of one of the facility’s storage chambers could be to blame for the radiation event. As Energy Department contractors send robots to explore WIPP’s caverns, the future of the world’s only operating high-hazard radioactive waste repository is uncertain. “Events like this simply should never occur. One event is far too many,” Ryan Flynn, New Mexico’s environment secretary, said immediately after the accident. The US Energy Department, which oversees WIPP, views the fire and leak as simply small bumps in the long road of running a long-term waste repository. “Without question, there is absolutely not an iota of doubt …. We will re-open,” David Klaus, the Energy Department deputy undersecretary, told the public in Carlsbad on March 8. But less than two weeks later, New Mexico seemed to have the last word on the immediate response to the accident, when it cancelled its permit for additional disposal at WIPP.

What WIPP does, and what it contains. In 1979, Congress authorized the design and construction of WIPP, planned to be a repository for a class of waste known as transuranic (TRU)–that is, radioactive elements heavier than uranium on the periodic chart, including plutonium, americium, curium and neptunium—and generated by the US defense effort after 1970. A bedded salt formation was chosen as the site of the project because of its presumed long-term stability and self-sealing properties. After several long-running legal challenges, Congress authorized the opening of WIPP in 1992 and set a cap of 175,000 cubic meters of waste to be disposed. Seven years later, WIPP began to receive wastes.

The end of the Cold War and the downsizing of the US nuclear weapons complex expanded WIPP’s mission to include excess plutonium. Instead of just contaminated rags, clothing and equipment, in 1998 the Energy Department decided to dispose of plutonium, originally part of the US strategic stockpile, from the now-closed Rocky Flats site. Some 3.5 tons, or more than 70 percent of the plutonium stored in WIPP, was originally meant to be used in nuclear weapons. …more (http://thebulletin NULL.org/wipp-problem-and-what-it-means-defense-nuclear-waste-disposal7002)

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September 21, 2014   Add Comments

Hanford Tank Farm Contractor leverages legal system furthering abuse, intimidation of Whistleblower

Order to rehire Hanford worker suspended
By Annette Cary – Tri-City Herald – 18 September, 2014

An administrative law judge is expected to consider whether the Hanford tank farm contractor must rehire former employee Shelly Doss, plus provide back pay and other compensation.

The Department of Labor announced in August that Washington River Protection Solutions violated whistleblower laws. It issued a preliminary order requiring the company to reinstate Doss to her former position as an environmental specialist and pay her more than $220,000.

However, it gave the contractor 30 days from notification to object before the order could take effect.

Washington River Protection Solutions filed an objection and a request for a hearing Wednesday, preventing the preliminary order from becoming final.

Although the preliminary order was dated July 22, Washington River Protection Solutions was not notified until Aug. 19, starting the clock on the 30-day period, according to the Department of Labor. All parties involved were notified of the Aug. 19 date, it said.

As outlined by federal regulations, Doss and Washington River Protection Solutions may present evidence to a Department of Labor judge, who will issue a decision. The final decision is the responsibility of an administrative review board.

The preliminary order required that Doss be given the job she had before being terminated Oct. 3, 2011. It required Washington River Protection Solutions, the Hanford tank farm contractor, to pay her the wages she would have made since then, plus any annual raises, and interest.

In addition the preliminary order called for payments of her attorney fees, $20,000 for emotional distress, $10,000 for callous disregard of protected rights as a whistleblower and $4,381 for her expenses.

Washington River Protection Solutions has not taken the actions outlined in the preliminary order, which included hiring Doss and posting a notice advising all of its employees of their rights as whistleblowers.

Regulations cited in the Department of Labor notification to Washington River Protection Solutions said the preliminary order would be suspended if either party filed an objection within 30 days, which would have been Thursday.

The investigation by the Department of Labor found that Doss had filed a whistleblower complaint while employed at the tank farms in 2009, which was settled with the help of the Hanford Concerns Council.

…more (http://www NULL.tri-cityherald NULL.com/2014/09/18/3160219_judge-to-hear-hanford-whistleblowers NULL.html?sp=/99/900/1643/&rh=1)

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September 21, 2014   Add Comments

DOE Inc. uses “plausible fiction”, “Sister Barrels”, as smoke screen to hide truth about WIPP radiation leak

The facts remain, DOE, Inc. and its partners, who brought you the WIPP radiation leak through their incompetence and reckless disregard for the land and people of New Mexico, have been obstructing New Mexico’s Investigation (http://bit NULL.ly/1uS6Pmb) into their negligence and are constructing lies and giving bribes to restart their failed “revenue engine”. All the while, DOE, Inc. and its partners, continue to grasp at straws to explain the radiation leak, inventing “plausible fictions” about what really caused the leak. They are moving ahead with the recovery and reopening WIPP, a failed Nuclear Plant without a fundamental understanding of the cause of the disaster. At this point they have few clues about how the accident happened and they really have no idea how many unstable waste barrels, become “radioactive dirty bombs”, may actually be strewn about between New Mexico and West Texas. WIPP has become the “Mother of All Scams”, as Secretary Moniz, with his notoriously strange hairdo, arrived on the scene in “mad-hatter” fashion, with a TRU-PAC LOADED with CASH to help keep the Nations failed Nuclear Waste program from being exposed as the fraud it is…

With no alternatives or plans on the drawing boards, the extent of exposure from the “accident that was never supposed to happen”, has reached well beyond the injured workers in Carlsbad. It includes the grotesque exposure of the government-industry wedding, that allows greed, corruption and incompetence to thrive while it substitutes our health and safety for another pay-off at the tax-payers expense. The WIPP Radiation Leak has strikingly similar patterns of corruption, incompetence and revolving door industry-government career opportunity that allowed BP’s Moconda Well to blow-out in 2010, resulting in the worst oil spill in US history. The Federal government’s agency, Minerals and Mines Service, became a key enabler for the Moconda disaster that cast a sheen of death and destruction across the gulf coast from New Orleans to Florida, not unlike DOE, Inc. – more (http://wapo NULL.st/1wtw9mb).

The unusual and unholy union of defenders of “Nuclear New Mexico”, Heinrich, Udall and Martinez, must adandon WIPP and stop trying to save one of the state’s cash cows, that can only remain as a curse against New Mexico for generations to come. We need economic diversification without burying us in the legacy of America’s deadly and unkempt Nuclear Neglect. What non-nuclear industry, small or large is going to consider New Mexico if has to contend with our legacy of nuclear negligence and generations of workers and citizens made sick by drunk, on greed, neoconservative-meet-neoliberal, profiteers. Our States politicians must stop sacrificing the people and our land as a convenient way to fill State coffers and line the pockets of the their benefactors and the profiteers whose lackeys occupy the wings of our State and Federal Legislative bodies. – no2wipp oped.

exploded

LANL’s burst barrel has sister drum at WIPP
17 September, 2014 – By Patrick Malone – The New Mexican

Investigators are still trying to pinpoint what caused this drum of radioactive waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory to pop open and leak in an underground repository near Carlsbad. A second drum of nuclear waste contains the same volatile mix of ingredients from Los Alamos National Laboratory. Courtesy Los Alamos National Laboratory

A second drum of nuclear waste contains the same volatile mix of ingredients from Los Alamos National Laboratory that is suspected of causing a radiation leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, lawmakers learned Tuesday.

The revelation came during a meeting of the New Mexico Legislature’s Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Committee in Carlsbad. It signals renewed cause for concern, considering that the precise cause of the Feb. 14 rupture of a waste drum that exposed more than 20 WIPP workers to radiation has not been identified, according to a nuclear watchdog with a close eye on the below-ground nuclear waste repository.

“We need to know what the cause is. We can’t really reopen WIPP until we know what the cause is, and until then we won’t know that it won’t happen again,” said Don Hancock, director of the nuclear waste safety program at the Southwest Research and Information Center.

Terry Wallace Jr., the lab’s WIPP recovery manager, told the committee that in addition to the waste drum that burst in February in Panel 7 Room 7 at WIPP, a drum housed in nearby Panel 6 contains the same worrisome mix of waste: organic kitty litter, acid neutralizer and a lead-laden glove introduced during treatment of the Cold War-era waste at Los Alamos. …more (http://www NULL.santafenewmexican NULL.com/news/local_news/lanl-s-burst-barrel-has-sister-drum-at-wipp/article_8f27843b-a1ea-5616-af74-f6d9eb34e61e NULL.html)

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September 21, 2014   Add Comments

YELLOW FEVER – A film Uncovering The Navajo Uranium Legacy

…more (http://www NULL.yellowfeverfilm NULL.com/#!news/c1vud)

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September 20, 2014   Add Comments

French Nuclear Energy Giant AREVA leaves Niger penniless while indulging in Yellow Cake Smorgasbord

18 August, 2014 – 100Voices (http://100r NULL.org/2014/08/100voices-ali-idrissa/)

As the president of France made a state visit to Niger in July, Ali Idrissa, head of civic group ROTAB, or Network of Organizations for Transparency and Budget Analysis, called on citizens to turn out wearing yellow scarves and tee-shirts. The goal: to protest France’s extraction of uranium for nuclear energy while so many in Niger lack access to electricity.

The yellow scarves are a symbol of yellowcake uranium, which fuels the plants “that makes the Metro run, that lights up the Eiffel Tower,” Idrissa says, while 90 percent of Nigerians live without electricity. Here, Idrissa discusses the divide, and his arrest to prevent civic protests from disturbing the visit of François Hollande.

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September 20, 2014   Add Comments

New Mexico Environment Secretary says DOE Inc. blocking State Investigation of Nuke Waste Disaster

wippgate

State official accuses feds of hampering probe of WIPP leak
6 Sep.2014 – By Patrick Malone – The New Mexican

New Mexico’s top environmental regulator lashed out at the U.S. Department of Energy this week, accusing it of impeding the state’s investigation into the circumstances that led to a radiation leak earlier this year at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad.

During his keynote speech to an audience representing federal agencies, industry, academia, national labs and all levels of government at the annual Radwaste Summit in Summerlin, Nev., New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn warned that Los Alamos National Laboratory and WIPP could face steeper sanctions from the state because of what he characterized as Energy Department roadblocks that have protracted the probe.

“The problem is that Department of Energy headquarters back in Washington, D.C., is looking at this situation through a political or [public relations] lens, so they’ve put a noose around the scientific personnel who can answer our questions and move this process along,” Flynn told The New Mexican.

On Feb. 14, a drum of nuclear waste that originated at Los Alamos burst at WIPP, the nation’s only below-ground repository for waste generated during decades of Cold War nuclear weapons production. The cause of the chemical reaction that triggered the drum to rupture remains under investigation by several federal agencies and the New Mexico Environment Department, which holds permitting authority over both LANL and WIPP. WIPP has ceased receiving waste indefinitely since the release.

Increasingly in recent weeks, the federal Energy Department has thwarted attempts by the state Environment Department to gather information for its investigation, according to Flynn. Six weeks ago, at a legislative hearing in Los Alamos, Flynn lauded LANL’s cooperation with the state investigation into the radiation leak, including the lab’s confession to treating the suspected drum without a permit, a process that left behind a lead-laden glove that’s being eyed as a contributing factor in the leak. On Friday, Flynn accused the Energy Department of muzzling scientists with crucial information about the waste stream.

He said at times during the state’s investigation into the leak, LANL personnel have provided “outstanding communication” about the possible cause of the radiation release. But when the Environment Department has asked for documentation supporting the scientists’ observations, the Energy Department has repeatedly refused to provide it. …more (http://www NULL.santafenewmexican NULL.com/news/local_news/flynn-accuses-feds-of-blocking-wipp-probe/article_d20f9fdd-ded2-5a2d-b15f-8e13190681cd NULL.html)

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September 7, 2014   Add Comments

WIPP Readies for Grand Re-Open Amid DOE Inc., Lies, Deception and Misdirection

radbarrels

WIPP operator prepares draft plan for reopening
By Lauren Villagran – Abq Journal Las Cruces Bureau – 27 August, 2014

A recovery is underway at a troubled New Mexico nuclear waste repository even as an investigation into the cause of a radiation leak there continues, according to an Energy Department contractor.

Nuclear Waste Partnership has presented a draft recovery plan for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant to the Department of Energy for review. The plan, scheduled for release in the coming weeks, is expected to offer details on how the contractor plans to deal with radiation contamination in the deep underground mine outside Carlsbad.

“They are looking at resuming limited operations in early 2016 and looking at resuming full operations in late 2017,” said New Mexico Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn, who has been briefed on the draft plan.

Clean-up activities have already begun, NWP Recovery Manager Jim Blankenhorn said at a recent town hall in Carlsbad. And although the recovery plan is still in draft form, it specifies “the first set of activities we’re going to do, regardless of what the final product looks like.”

On Feb. 14, a hot reaction inside at least one drum of nuclear waste stored at WIPP resulted in the release of plutonium and americium particles. The radiation contaminated several of WIPP’s long, underground hallways and also found its way into the environment in low levels.

Seven months on, scientists are still trying to figure out what caused the hot reaction and radiation release.

In the meantime, NWP teams have begun making daily entries into WIPP for something called “rollback,” in which every area of the underground facility is being tested and characterized for radiation contamination. A map is emerging showing which areas are safe and which are not, with buffer zones labeled in between. …more (http://www NULL.abqjournal NULL.com/452498/news/wipp-operator-prepares-draft-plan-for-reopening NULL.html)

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September 7, 2014   Add Comments

LANL to relabel exploding Nuke Waste Barrels as “ignitable” or “corrosive” – feeling better now

exploded

Review, relabeling of LANL waste raises questions about scope of problem
By Staci Matlock – The New Mexican

As investigators keep trying to pinpoint what caused a drum of radioactive waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory to pop open and leak in an underground repository near Carlsbad, the lab’s review of the incident has led to uncertainty over the volatility of hundreds of other drums, including dozens still at Los Alamos.

The lab notified state environment officials late last month that it was re-evaluating and relabeling as “ignitable” or “corrosive” the contents of 86 drums at LANL.

The drums contain nitrate salts similar to those in the drum that ruptured Feb. 14 at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Southern New Mexico.

The Department of Energy also is reviewing and relabeling more than 300 LANL containers with similar chemicals that are stored in WIPP’s underground salt caverns.

The re-evaluation raises questions about the scope of the problem that led to the leak at WIPP. Lab officials had previously said they believed the problem was isolated to two drums that contained a unique blend of chemicals, causing one of the drums to burst.

The lab’s review of 86 waste drums also prompted state regulators to question whether the lab has authority to “provisionally” relabel those drums as ignitable or corrosive while the contents are analyzed.

Relabeling the drums “does not affect the permanent underground disposal of the waste at WIPP,” said lab spokesman Matt Nerzig. “The drums at Los Alamos are stored safely and securely in robust structures with high efficiency particulate air filtering and fire detection and suppression systems. The drums are visually inspected and monitored for temperature daily.”

Investigators still haven’t determined exactly why a lid on a lab waste container cracked at WIPP, causing the first leak in the waste facility’s 15-year history. But they are looking at possible chemical reactions after kitty litter and neutralizers were added to the drum, which also contained nitrate salts and a lead-laden glove. Some chemists have theorized the added ingredients could have caused waste in the drum to ignite.

Lab staff overseeing waste handling operations at LANL approved the addition of both the kitty litter and the neutralizers by lab contractor EnergySolutions to the drums containing nitrate salt. The lab also approved a switch from a clay litter to a wheat-based litter and agreed to use of a neutralizer that manufacturers warned shouldn’t be mixed with certain chemicals. …more (http://www NULL.santafenewmexican NULL.com/news/local_news/lanl-s-review-relabeling-of-waste-drums-raises-questions-about/article_08aae724-dfb5-5e99-a387-6dc3c91fd295 NULL.html)

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September 7, 2014   Add Comments

Heinrich, Udall, WTF up with the missing mine inspections at WIPP?

DOE Inc. and Corrupt Partner URS are taking New Mexico for a ride just like the have WA with Hanford. Not only are they not inspecting the mine(WIPP), they allowed nuclear leaks and pretend nothing is wrong and have the audacity to boast of their Safety Record. Reckless negligence and permanent damage to New Mexico is what happened. New Mexico’s Nuclear corridor is a sales slogan. IT BULLSHIT AND BAD FOR YOU.

apydog

The Pup wants to know why an area with rich history of mining are not doing mine inspections?

Want Explanation Of Missing Inspection At Carlsbad Nuclear Waste Plant
27 March, 2014 – KRWG

U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich today announced that they have sent a letter to Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, asking for a written report on why the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) had not done legally required regular inspections at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, N.M.

The information about missed safety inspections was revealed in the Department of Energy’s accident report on the Feb. 5 fire at WIPP. A specialized salt mine over 2,000 feet below ground, WIPP is covered by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. By law, the Labor Department’s MSHA is required to inspect WIPP no less than four times a year. Yet records in the accident report indicate that MSHA had performed inspections just twice in the last three years.

”The health and safety of the workers at WIPP and the surrounding community are our top priorities and it is extremely concerning to learn that a fire in the mining portion of WIPP was a preventable circumstance,” Udall and Heinrich wrote.

The senators asked Perez to provide them with an explanation of the factors that led MSHA to miss inspections, a summary of the findings of the inspections that MSHA did complete, assurance that MSHA will follow the inspection process in the future, a summary of steps MSHA will take to ensure that such an accident does not occur again, and a pledge that MSHA staff will be available at WIPP throughout the recovery process to ensure the safety of the investigations, remediation, and future re-opening of WIPP. …more (http://krwg NULL.org/post/udall-heinrich-want-explanation-missing-inspection-carlsbad-nuclear-waste-plant)

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September 7, 2014   Add Comments