57 nuclear waste containers from Los Alamos national lab are considered at risk for explosion after two similar barrels were identified as the cause of the incident in the WIPP underground. DOE and the state of New Mexico have not confirmed the location of all 57 containers. The state did request that all shipments that were in transit, above ground at WIPP, at the nearby Texas based WCS waste facility and those still at Los Alamos be identified. The state wants details about how these suspect barrels will be secured to not pose further threat to the public.
Los Alamos stated that drums in their possession were secured under a “dome” with fire protection systems. They are monitoring the barrels for pressure changes. DOE has admitted that a switch to an “organic kitty litter” to solidify nitrate salts could be the root cause for the problem. The state has given DOE 2 days to prove all suspect barrels are secure. An initial administrative order considered the barrels at Los Alamos to “be outside” although DOE’s statement to the press claims they have attempted to secure them.
DOE staff at WIPP reported today that workers will reenter the underground to determine if more than the initial 2 barrels could have been involved. Meanwhile these potentially explosive barrels have been hanging about in New Mexico posing a public safety risk while DOE tried to sort out what went wrong.
DOE WIPP update: http://www.wipp.energy.gov/wipprecovery/recovery.html
State of NM Administrative Order:
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