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Waste Isolation Pilot Plant under federal investigation for worker exposure to radiation and chemical hazards

WIPP under federal investigation for worker exposures

Adrian C Hedden, Carlsbad Current-Argus   Feb. 21, 2019 Workers at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant were allegedly exposed to several hazardous chemicals and excessive heat last year, prompting a federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Energy into WIPP’s operations.

The DOE’s Office of Enterprise Assessments filed a notice on Jan. 29 of its intent to investigate to Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP), the DOE-hired contractor responsible for WIPP’s daily operations.

Between July and October 2018, employees in the underground nuclear waste repository were potentially “overexposed” to carbon tetrachloride, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide, read the notice, including a “series” of heat-stress incidents.

The DOE intends to investigate the circumstances leading up to the alleged “hygiene-related events,” and could fine NWP, based on what is uncovered. ……

A pattern of bad management?

Don Hancock, director of the Nuclear Waste Program at the Southwest Research and Information Center – an Albuquerque-based environmental watchdog group – said the alleged incident was just the most recent example of evidence that NWP is improperly managing WIPP.

“This is a constant problem where workers are exposed to dangers, radioactive or otherwise, that shouldn’t have happened,” Hancock said. “These are not just paperwork problems.”

Hancock also pointed to an accident radiological release in 2014, which led to a three-year closure of the WIPP facility, as part of what he called a pattern of mismanagement and undue hazards. He said NWP’s recent contract renewal shouldn’t have happened because of numerous safety issues throughout its operations at WIPP…….


February 25, 2019 - Posted by | employment, health, USA

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