A February radiation leak will force tighter precautions at a nuclear-waste burial ground in New Mexico, the Albuquerque Journal reports.
Employees at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant will be expected “to wear protective equipment — coveralls, shoe covers and gloves — to make sure contamination doesn’t get on us and respirators so it doesn’t get in us,” Bob McQuinn, the head of the facility’s managing contractor, told the Journal for a Tuesday report.
Workers stopped entering the plant’s subterranean section after warning systems identified escaped contaminants on Feb. 14. Since the incident, signs of radiation exposure have turned up in at least 21 employees.
The exact source of the leak still remains unclear. The Obama administration, though, has indicated that the facility would ultimately begin receiving new waste from U.S. atomic laboratories, according to the Journal.
“The place that really has had no radiation protection issues now has, not more than the rest of the sites, but similar radiation protection hazards,” said McQuinn, president and project manager of Nuclear Waste Partnership.
“The formality of what we do is going to have to be strengthened,” McQuinn added. “Although there was training, we weren’t as good at formality of operations as we need to be.”
Facility workers this week received training to potentially use robotic equipment during restoration efforts at the storage site, the Carlsbad Current-Argus reported on Tuesday. The equipment came from Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories, which are both also located in New Mexico.
The Energy Department since Sunday has sent specialists to Carlsbad, N.M., to prepare employees to install new filtration gear at the waste storage facility. The visiting crews came from the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.
What We're Following See More »
Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."