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‘Kitty litter’ blamed for explosive nuclear leak at WIPP — “Incredibly important to act quickly” — ‘All these drums’ are at risk, including at other sites — Must be gathered ‘right away’ before they also burst — Summer heat will increase instability — Storage rooms must be sealed off to contain future ‘events’
Santa Fe New Mexican, May 9, 2014: Nuke expert believes ‘kitty litter’ switch led to WIPP leak — An absorbent material similar to kitty litter is the likely cause of a radiation leak [...] according to a longtime nuclear expert. [...] Los Alamos National Laboratory [...] switched from using a clay- based absorbent in the drums [sent to WIPP] to a wheat-based absorbent — both made of the same materials used in different types of kitty litter, according to Jim Conca, a geochemist who worked for years at the lab and in environmental monitoring for WIPP. [...] The kitty litter switch could have created dried-out nitrate salts and led to a “mild” explosion in one or more of the waste containers, Conca said. [...] LANL, Department of Energy and WIPP did not specifically comment on the theory. [...] Conca is a nuclear power advocate and a WIPP believer, so he’s hoping his kitty litter theory proves correct. [...] The organic absorbents made of wheat or corn [...] “It absorbs like a sponge. If you let the salts dry out completely, they can ignite.”
Jim Conca, Forbes columnist who worked in environmental monitoring for WIPP: “I think it is the most likely cause, but there is still some room for doubt until they get to the drum that leaked. [It is] an awfully good thing this drum was in WIPP when it went off because if had been anywhere else, just think about what might have happened. So they need to act quickly, they need to corral all these drums and get them into WIPP right away, put them in Panel 7 and seal it off [...] it is incredibly important to act quickly. You don’t want to wait months and let the drums keep drying out. They need to be gathered quickly and get them to WIPP. By being stupid, we risk doing this wrong and making it worse.”
Forbes, May 10, 2014: Nuclear Waste Leak Traced To — Kitty Litter [...] Cat litter has been used for decades in radiochemistry labs and nuclear facilities to stabilize certain radwastes [...] Unfortunately, someone working with this waste, before it was to be shipped to WIPP, used a new “green” cat litter, made with materials like wheat or corn. These organic litters do not have the silicate properties needed to chemically stabilize nitrate the correct way. [...] We still need more visual evidence to be absolutely certain. The drum thought to have burst is about 10 rows back from the waste face. [...] We know which drums were treated with this green litter. Some are stored at WIPP and some are stored at other places. [...] Seal off Panel 6 with the normal metal bulkheads at either end. This will contain any event from these drums. All other drums with green litter should quickly be corralled from where they are, shipped under containment, emplaced in Panel 7 at WIPP and the panel sealed off. It would be the safest thing to do. [...] Another important point is that these materials become less stable when they’re heated. So in the mean time, it is important to make sure that these drums are segregated and kept in a cool environment. Summer is coming. [...] We need to act quickly.
Video: WIPP nuclear site may close for several years — Explosion in multiple drums suspected — “Very much a cause for concern” — Top official gives ‘fiery speech’ calling for public to be told what has happened — DOE refuses to name source of nuclear waste
Albuquerque Journal, May 9, 2014: The head of the recovery effort at the federal government’s nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico said Thursday it could be up to three years before full operations resume at the underground facility. [...] the focus has turned to a set of waste drums that came from Los Alamos National Laboratory. Officials at the meeting reiterated the possibility that there may have been a chemical reaction inside the drums. [...] New Mexico Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn said the theory of a chemical reaction is based on limited knowledge, and he urged officials during the meeting not to withhold any information. Flynn said he’s concerned the public will lose faith [...] “We need to know what happened. We absolutely need to know,” he said. [...] Los Alamos is under a tight deadline to get the plutonium-contaminated waste off its northern New Mexico campus before wildfire season peaks. [...] Lab Director Charlie McMillan said Thursday during a news conference in Albuquerque that the recent developments “are very much a cause for concern.”
Carlsbad Current Argus, May 9, 2014: [...] community leaders in Carlsbad and New Mexico government officials have begun to reveal their irritations. New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn capped the weekly WIPP town hall with a fiery speech [and] called for the immediate closure of all waste panels except Panel 7 at WIPP, as well as complete public transparency. [...] after investigators narrowed the likely cause to the waste makeup from LANL. Nuclear Waste Partnership Recovery Manager Jim Blankenhorn announced on Thursday that WIPP officials believe the radiation leak was likely caused by nuclear waste that contained nitrate salt which gave off some sort of a chemical reaction. The waste with nitrate salt matched waste stored in drums that originated from three separate waste streams: two of the waste streams originated from LANL and the source of the other was unknown because DOE and NWP refused to name the source.
Fukushima not just a Japan story.......
Professor: Concerns Fukushima is impacting Alaska; “Unusual animals showing up dead… Seals with unknown disease… first cases of avian cholera” — NOAA: ‘Rare whale beachings’ in Alaska under investigation — Japan Paper: Mysterious sea creatures found one after another along coast (PHOTOS)
Japan Times: Fukushima fallout in N. America at 400,000,000,000,000 Bq of Cesium-137 — Study: Hazardous on a ‘continental scale’ — Physicist: “Cancer a certainty” if one radioactive particle ingested — CBS: Inaccurate internet reports stoked fear radiation had somehow come our way (VIDEO)
Over 50 dead seals, sea lions, whales, walrus recently stranded in Alaska — Dozens of seals suffering from baldness, skin sores — Experts: “Marine transported Fukushima radionuclides… may represent a new stressor to ecosystem”
“Nuclear fuel fragments” from Fukushima found in Europe — 10,000+ kilometers from reactors — Study: Plume “directly from N. America” — Hot particles a “significant part” radioactive releases — Quickly spread over entire hemisphere — Film shows core material on Norway air filter (PHOTO)
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Another town hall was held last night and brought forth a number of new admissions on the situation at WIPP in New Mexico The underground facility may be shut down for 18 months to three years. Waste from Los Alamos is thought to be the likely cause but this is not yet confirmed They are considering the possibility of a “chemical explosion” in …Read entire article »
Our research team has been following the events at WIPP since the February 14th incident at the facility. Some very slow progress has been made in the last three months in trying to understand what happened. They have determined that it was not a cave in at the underground storage portion of the facility. The search team has made it into … Read entire article »