Los Alamos National Laboratory is now at the center of a federal inquiry into a leak at a New Mexico nuclear-waste facility, the Associated Press reports.
Energy Department accident investigators have been working at Los Alamos for roughly three weeks in connection with the February radiation leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, a state environment official said in comments quoted by AP on Thursday. A container from the nuclear-weapons laboratory ruptured in the underground repository in February, spreading contaminants to 22 workers and forcing personnel out of much of the site.
The Energy Department probe was one of nine looking into the radiation release, said Jeff Kendall, general counsel for the New Mexico Environment Department.
He said the waste facility near Carlsbad and the Los Alamos laboratory each face a high likelihood of receiving penalties tied to the incident as new details become available. Los Alamos may have sent more than 350 rupture-prone waste drums to the waste complex, and over 100 additional problematic containers to a commercial storage site in Andrews, Texas.
Kendall added that the Energy Department would inform New Mexico next month of “how the recovery plan is working,” as well as “deadlines, dates and timelines” for scrubbing the site of errant radioactive particles and resuming operations there.
It remains unclear when the waste facility may reopen. One Justice Department official, though, downplayed the possibility of the site remaining permanently closed.
“I don’t foresee that. Nobody is contemplating a closure of WIPP,” said Eileen McDonough, a federal attorney representing the Energy Department.
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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.”