DOE Secretary Moniz to Visit New Mexico Early Next Week


Runs 8/8/14 through 8/15/14

(THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

  • DOE Secretary Moniz to Visit New Mexico Early Next Week

On Monday, Ernest Moniz, the Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary, will be in New Mexico to meet with elected officials and regulators, make opening remarks at a public meeting about energy in Santa Fe and hold a public town hall in Carlsbad about the fire and radiation release that occurred in February at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). On Tuesday, he will visit WIPP.

On Monday, August 11th, Secretary Moniz will attend a Quadrennial Energy Review meeting in Santa Fe. The Quadrennial Energy Review, which was launched by the Obama administration in January, is a broad effort to provide recommendations about the key infrastructure needed for the transmission, distribution and storage of energy. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Senator Martin Heinrich will participate in the meeting, which will focus on tribal, state and local issues. It will take place at the New Mexico State Personnel Office, located at 2600 Cerrillos Road, in Santa Fe, beginning at 9 am.

Also on Monday, Secretary Moniz will host a town hall meeting at the Leo Sweet Community Center, located at 1302 Mission Avenue, in Carlsbad, beginning at 6:30 pm. The town hall will be livestreamed at  The focus will be on the recovery efforts at WIPP following the truck fire on February 5th and the radiation release on February 14th. Plutonium and americium was detected in air filters located one-half mile away from the WIPP exhaust shaft. Twenty-two workers were exposed to the radiation.

Photographs have shown a waste drum from Los Alamos National Laboratory released radioactivity in the WIPP underground. Further investigations will take place in the coming weeks to try to determine if other containers also are breached. The cause of the release is still not known, so whether additional releases might occur in the future also is unknown.

DOE is developing a plan to detail what activities it will undertake in order to decontaminate the underground and resume waste disposal operations. The plan also is supposed to provide cost estimates and schedules for those activities. The plan has not been made public, but may be a subject of discussion during Secretary Moniz’s visit.

WIPP is the federal government’s only site for the permanent disposal of nuclear and hazardous waste generated by the research, development and manufacture of nuclear weapons and is located 2,150 feet below land surface in a salt formation located 26 miles east of Carlsbad.

Ryan Flynn, the Secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department, will attend the events in Carlsbad. Flynn said he is interested in learning about how DOE will provide improved oversight of nuclear safety, emergency management and mine safety at the WIPP site.


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