WIPP Isolates 420 LANL Drums; EPA Recertification Public Meetings June 16 in Carlsbad and June 17 in Albuquerque


Runs 6/5/15 through 6/12/15

(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:

 *           WIPP Isolates 420 LANL Drums; EPA Recertification Public Meetings June 16 in Carlsbad and June 17 in Albuquerque

In a joint press release, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the New Mexico Environment Department announced that DOE had closed the rooms containing 420-nitrate salt bearing waste containers shipped from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). The drums are located in disposal Panels 6 and 7. On February 14, 2014, one or more LANL drums exploded in the WIPP underground releasing plutonium and americium into the environment and contaminating 22 workers on the surface. Brattice cloth, used to restrict airflow, and a chain link fence were installed near the waste containers. Ten feet of mined salt was then used as backfill and a steel bulkhead was installed. Finally, continuous air monitors were installed at the bulkheads.

Don Hancock, of Southwest Research and Information Center, said the installation was an initial closure, not a permanent closure, and would not provide full protection from a radiation release. He explained, “The bulkhead and brattice cloth should reduce what would come out, but it is not designed as a total or more permanent barrier if there is a roof fall or breach.”  sric.org

Ryan Flynn, Environment Department Secretary, told state legislators this week that a more robust permanent closure would require a modification to the hazardous waste permit. The modification process includes public comment and an opportunity for a public hearing.

DOE has stated that WIPP will be ready to accept waste again next summer. Flynn told legislators that the end of 2016 “is a little more realistic.”

In related news, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be holding two public meetings in Carlsbad and Albuquerque regarding the DOE’s recertification application to demonstrate that WIPP won’t leak for 10,000 years.  http://www.epa.gov/radiation/news/wipp-news.html#wippcra2014pubmeetings and CARD Fact Sheet CARD WIPP EPA fact sheet

The application does not mention the February 14, 2014 radiation leak that was never supposed to happen. The inadequacies of the application, whether EPA has to approve the potential reopening of WIPP and concerns about high-level waste coming to WIPP, will be among the issues discussed. Many people will be asking EPA to do its job protecting New Mexicans now and for generations into the future.

Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping (CARD) will be hosting a dinner and training on Tuesday, June 9th at 6 pm at the South West Organizing Project, 211 10th Street South West, Albuquerque.  http://cardnm.org/  Sylvianna Diaz d’Ouville, Don Hancock and Ray Garduno will give their perspectives on WIPP. Mark Doppke will facilitate. Hancock will give a power point presentation about what is happening at the facility.  Dinner will be served and donations will be accepted.  WIPP Dinner, EPA, 15 (flyer).

On Tuesday, June 16th the Carlsbad meeting is at the Carlsbad Field Office from 1:30 to 4:30 pm.

On Wednesday, June 17, the two Albuquerque sessions are at the Albuquerque Embassy Suites Hotel, at 1000 Woodward Place, Northeast. From 2:30 to 6 pm the roundtable dialogue will allow detailed technical discussion among the public, EPA and WIPP officials. The evening session from 7 to 9 pm will include time for public statements.

The public can comment during the meetings.


This has been the CCNS News Update. To learn more, please visit our website at nuclearactive.org.


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