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Waste Isolation Pilot Plant radioactive leak due to kitty litter?

Nuclear expert says kitty litter contributed to radiation leak at WIPP Current Argus News, By Zack Ponce, 13 May 14 zponce@currentargus.com CARLSBAD >> A change in the type of “kitty litter” that’s mixed with transuranic waste may be to blame for February’s radiation leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. A scientist who worked at WIPP until 2010 says he believes a change from non-organic kitty litter to organic litter caused a chemical reaction inside a waste drum, releasing the radioactive isotopes.

WIPP announced Monday night that photos taken over the weekend showed evidence of melted plastic and rubber on 55-gallon drums, indicating that the production of heat likely occurred in the underground area where waste is stored, according to a news release.

Jim Conca, who worked with WIPP from 2000 to 2010, said last week he believes a chemical reaction involving the kitty litter caused a small explosion inside a waste drum. New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn confirmed on Monday that he has heard Department of Energy officials discuss the possibility that kitty litter may have been to blame for the radiation leak. Flynn said it is just one of many theories the DOE is exploring and nothing is certain at this time.

WIPP Recovery Manager Jim Blankenhorn said during last week’s town hall meeting that officials believe the radiation leak was likely caused by nuclear waste that contained nitrate salt which gave off some sort of chemical reaction. Blankenhorn said a switch from a non-organic substance to organic was what triggered the event. According to Conca, the unidentified substance containing elements mirroring nitrate salt is kitty litter.

Under WIPP’s congressional mandate, the nuclear waste disposal facility located 26 miles east of Carlsbad cannot accept any liquid waste, and therefore kitty litter is used as a preventative measure to absorb any remnants of liquid before the drums are sealed and shipped to Southeastern New Mexico, Conca said……… http://www.currentargus.com/carlsbad-news/ci_25750452/doe-examining-possibility-kitty-litter-contributed-radiation-leak

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May 14, 2014 - Posted by | incidents, USA

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