The state of New Mexico has fined Los Alamos National Lab and WIPP a total of 54 million dollars for safety failures at both facilities. Watchdog groups in the area pointed out that fining the DOE without stipulating that the contractors responsible for the hands on safety failures pay the actual fines, would ultimately leave taxpayers paying the fines.
Public meetings on WIPP have been further limited to one per month. The few questions people were able to pose caused more questions rather than providing answers.
A question about where the water that is being pumped out of the waste hoist in the underground was being disposed of resulted in a response from NWP that it is being “disposed” but they refused to specify where. So far no radiation readings or other lab analysis of this brine (it is water mixed with salt) have been made public.
Additional questioning by Mr. Norbert Rempe, a retired geologist that worked on the WIPP project, pointed out that the water in the waste hoist was not groundwater or rain as NWP attempted to describe it at the meeting. Mr. Rempe also asked why many revelations were found in the recent FOIA document release at the request of the Santa Fe New Mexican and why that information had not been given to the public over the months since the initial events at WIPP. DOE’s response was nonsensical and full of cliche meaningless corporate catch phrases.
NWP also made statements in the meeting that ceiling bolting operations that are currently underway are their main priority right now but declined to say why this is a priority.
Questions about the decision to not remove the two suspect barrels in panel 7 and panel 6 have been asked repeatedly and never actually answered. The current plan is to seal these two barrels in their respective rooms without ever learning what was the exact cause of the barrel explosion in panel 7.
More areas of the underground have been opened up to be accessed without protective gear. DOE and the contractor have refused to give specifics about what if any actual barrier exists between the still contaminated areas and the area where the other unexploded barrel resides and the “no gear” zone.
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