Over a series of statements and presentations from Los Alamos officials, information has come out regarding some of the other “at risk” barrels that have the same waste as the barrel that exploded.
A second at risk barrel has a lead glove inside it. These gloves are considered by Los Alamos to be a risk factor, a lead glove is considered to be the reason the barrel in panel 7 room 7 exploded. The addition of the lead glove into the nitrate salt bearing waste acts as a catalyst to cause the ignition temperature to drop to 100c from the usual 500c. This is thought to be the reaction that caused the explosion in the barrel at panel 7 room 7. The other glove is located in the at risk barrel in panel 6. This was disclosed at the Thursday night town hall meeting by Dave Nichols from Los Alamos National Lab.
Our records show that Panel 6 is not sealed. The state of New Mexico requested that WIPP seal panel 6 as soon as possible due to the at risk barrel in that panel. The admission of a lead glove also being in that at risk barrel makes doing so even more urgent. Currently WIPP recovery efforts are in the very initial stages where they are still trying to get a habitable air flow that can support both workers and combustion powered machinery in the mine. Plans for sealing panel 6 are very far down the recovery calendar. Workers are currently in the mine daily with some areas of the mine no longer requiring masks or radiation suits. There is no sort of reinforced physical division between the “clean” section of the mine and the contaminated panels including panel 6. The air run through the mine is still run through the HEPA filter bank to remove contamination before air is released to the surface environment. This could potentially filter out any contamination from a second event if one were to happen. This would not protect any workers that could be in the mine if this second barrel has a release type event.
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