Could ‘Kitty Litter’ Be to Blame for Atomic Dump Radiation Leak?

Global Security Newswire Staff
May 13, 2014, 9:01 a.m.

A spe­cial­ist thinks he has pin­pointed the cause of a Feb­ru­ary ra­di­ation leak at a fed­er­al atom­ic waste dump — a pack­ing ma­ter­i­al sim­il­ar to kitty lit­ter.

The firm re­spons­ible for pre­par­ing con­tain­ers of ra­di­ation-con­tam­in­ated ma­ter­i­als for ship­ment from the Los Alam­os Na­tion­al Labor­at­ory to the Waste Isol­a­tion Pi­lot Plant for un­der­ground stor­age changed the type of ab­sorb­ent ma­ter­i­al in pack­ing the con­tain­ers, says Jim Conca, who pre­vi­ously worked at both the nuc­le­ar weapons fa­cil­ity and in en­vir­on­ment­al mon­it­or­ing for the New Mex­ico re­pos­it­ory.

The ab­sorb­ent ma­ter­i­al is used to sponge up any li­quid in the drums and re­mains in the con­tain­ers when they are stored in the tun­nels of the nuc­le­ar waste dump, the Santa Fe New Mex­ic­an news­pa­per re­por­ted Conca as say­ing. This switch from a clay-based ab­sorb­ent to a wheat-based filler ma­ter­i­al could have pro­duced ni­trate salts that caused a “mild” ex­plos­ive re­ac­tion to oc­cur in one of the drums, ac­cord­ing to Conca, a sci­ence colum­nist for For­bes.

Of­fi­cials from the En­ergy De­part­ment, which is still in­vest­ig­at­ing the cause of the Feb­ru­ary leak, did not re­spond to Conca’s the­ory, nor did of­fi­cials from Los Alam­os or the Waste Isol­a­tion Pi­lot Plant. Un­der­ground op­er­a­tions at the waste site have been hal­ted since the leak oc­curred. An En­ergy De­part­ment state­ment earli­er this month in­dic­ated that a chem­ic­al re­ac­tion in one of the drums sent over from Los Alam­os could be re­spons­ible for the emis­sions re­lease.

The of­fi­cial in charge of the re­cov­ery ef­fort at the WIPP fa­cil­ity last week said it would prob­ably take between 18 months and three years to fully re­open the nuc­le­ar re­pos­it­ory.

What We're Following See More »
FRENCH IS A LAWYER, VETERAN
Kristol Recruiting National Review’s David French for Third-Party Run
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Two Republicans intimately familiar with Bill Kristol’s efforts to recruit an independent presidential candidate to challenge Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have told Bloomberg Politics that the person Kristol has in mind is David French -- whose name the editor of the Weekly Standard floated in the current issue of the magazine.

French is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. According to the website of National Review, where French is a staff writer, he is a constitutional lawyer, a recipient of the Bronze Star, and an author of several books who lives in Columbia, Tenn., with his wife Nancy and three children."

Source:
CALIFORNIA VOTES IN A WEEK
Jerry Brown Backs Clinton
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

California Gov. Jerry Brown endorsed Hillary Clinton today, calling her "the only path forward to win the presidency and stop the dangerous candidacy of Donald Trump." While praising Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign, Brown said "Clinton’s lead is insurmountable and Democrats have shown – by millions of votes – that they want her as their nominee. ... This is no time for Democrats to keep fighting each other. The general election has already begun."

Source:
GLASS CEILING STILL HARD TO CRACK
Clinton Says Voters Still Hung Up on Gender
9 hours ago
THE LATEST

In a New York Magazine profile, Hillary Clinton said she still encounters misogyny at her own events: “‘I really admire you, I really like you, I just don’t know if I can vote for a woman to be president.’ I mean, they come to my events and then they say that to me.”

Source:
CHANGE WE CAN’T BELIEVE IN
Trump Vows Not to Change
9 hours ago
THE LATEST
Source:
BACKING OUT ON BERNIE
Trump Won’t Debate Sanders After All
4 days ago
THE LATEST

Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”

×