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Up to 592 Trillion Bq of Plutonium equivalent involved in disaster at US nuclear dump

PuFlag-USAGov’t Analysis: Up to 592 Trillion Bq of Plutonium equivalent involved in disaster at US nuclear dump – Over 5,000 times amount in waste drum blamed for WIPP release — Official: “We thought for sure” there were multiple ruptured drums — “It actually was measured” in city many miles away (VIDEO)

DOE Town Hall in Los Alamos on WIPP Leak Findings (mp3), Apr 23, 2015 (emphasis added):

  • Question (at 1:43:15 in): So you’ve come up with an amount that you think was in the drum, and you’ve been able to forensically track that. The underground is pretty contaminated at this point, the walls are contaminated, the filters are contaminated — andit actually was measured in Carlsbad 30 miles away. So that’s a significant quantity of plutonium or other isotopes. How is that quantity matching with what is in the drum?
  • Ted Wyka, US Dept. of Energy Chief Nuclear Safety Advisor and chairman of DOE’s Accident Investigation BoardYou’re right, any release is obviously too much. We do have hundreds of surveys… We think we have a pretty good source term calculation to the extent that we need to identify it as one drum…
  • Question: I don’t feel like that answers my question, which is of course is your job, right?… There’s so much plutonium, americium, or whatever those secret ingredients were, and now it’s spread all over in a layer and it’s leaked into the air — what is that quanity?…
  • Wyka (at 1:49:15 in): Does that mean there’s no other sympathetic secondary releases from other drums? I can’t tell you that.

U.S. DOE Accident Investigation Board (AIB) Report Phase 2, Radiological Release at WIPP(pdf), Apr 2015: The inventory in drum 68660 [was] 2.84 PE-Ci [plutonium equivalent curies]… Source terms initially released in Panel 7 Room 7 [is estimated at] 2 to 10 PE-Ci.

Savannah River National Laboratory WIPP Source Term Attribution Analysis (pdf), Aug 2014:


  • Source Term (ST) = MAR [Material at Risk] x DR [Damage Ratio] x ARF [Airborne Release Fraction] x RF [Respirable Fraction]
  • Assume a 2 Ci release from Room 7 based on assessment from previous slide
  • Bounding Case 1… MAR = ST / (DR x ARF x RF) = 2 Ci / 0.5 x 0.0005 x 0.5 = 16,000 Ci[592,000,000,000,000 becquerels]
  • Bounding Case 2… MAR = ST / (DR x ARF x RF) = 2 Ci / 0.5 x 0.01 x 1.0 = 400 Ci

Note the AIB reports the total inventory of activity in drum 68660 was 2.84 Ci. SRNL’s estimate of total inventory of activity involved was 400-16,000 Ci (141-5,634 times drum 68660 inventory).

This may explain Wyka’s statement at the Carlsbad town hall, “We went in thinking there’s another drum…We thought for sure we’d see something. Most of the analysis team thought so.”

See also: Gov’t: Radioactive release “orders of magnitude” worse than predicted at US nuke dump — 370 Billion Bq of Plutonium equivalent may have escaped from WIPP drum — For amount that high, “significant number” of breached drums expected (VIDEO)

Full Los Alamos town hall here | Carlsbad town hall here

May 8, 2015 - Posted by | USA, wastes

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