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Fire risk at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP)

exclamation-SmLab Director: Expect radiation spikes coming from US nuclear facility — Gov’t pays for more air monitors to see impact on populated areas — DOE warns of ‘ignitability’ of 368 containers at site; “Significant fire risk” — Top Official: Material at WIPP “just disintegrated… got very hot, very quickly” (VIDEO)

Dept. of Energy – Carlsbad, NM Field Office (pdf), July 30, 2014: The purpose of this letter is to provide you [New Mexico Environmental Dept.] written notice that the Department of Energy [is] provisionally applying EPA Hazardous Waste Number (code) D001** for the characteristic of ignitability to some nitrate salt bearing waste containers that have been disposed at the WIPP facility. […] This affects up to 368 containers […] in the underground WIPP facility […] The Permittees plan to implement the [plan] to expedite closure of Panel 6 and Panel 7, Room 7 so that a potential release […] will not pose a threat to human health or the environment.

** “Significant fire risk due either to their low flash point, ability to self-combust and burn, or are able to combust or support combustion” –EPA hazardous waste specialist Daniel Stoehr

Reuters, July 26, 2014: A team of government investigators has turned its attention to Los Alamos in recent days […] to determine whether additional barrels are affected, said [New Mexico Senator Peter Wirth]. “We’re making progress in determining what happened. Now we are much more focused on the scope,” he said.

Minutes of the New Mexico Legislature (pdf), published June 26, 2014: In further explaining what occurred [at WIPP, NMED Secretary Ryan] Flynn said that the material holding the bags of magnesium oxide together that had been on top of the drums just disintegrated. By all indications, he added, the area got very hot very quickly […]

Carlsbad, NM Town Hall, July 24, 2014:

  • 37:30 in – Question: Is Dr. Hardy saying that radiation from contaminated ventilation system will continue to be released to the environment periodically? Russell Hardy, director of the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring & Research Center: That is Dr. Hardy’s assumption… we will probably see spikes at Station B, as contamination… makes its way out of the repository.
  • 52:30 in – Hardy: We did receive additional funding from DOE to expand our ambient air sampling sites… very soon we will be deploying 3 additional ambient air sampling towers… one will be here in Carlsbad… we think those 3 additions will give us much better coverage in the future with respect to how this release — or the potential for future releases — may impact the area.

Watch the WIPP Town Hall here

August 4, 2014 - Posted by | safety, USA, wastes

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