U.S. laboratories failed to replicate a cat-litter reaction hypothesized to have ruptured a storage drum in an underground nuclear-waste dump, Reuters reports.
Neither Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico nor any of the nation’s other atomic research centers have produced the type of thermal reaction tentatively blamed for a February contamination release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Energy Department spokeswoman Lindsey Geisler said on Friday. The breach was theoretically caused by a cat-litter and nitrate-salt packing mix placed in hundreds of waste barrels at the Los Alamos facility.
“There’s still a lot we don’t know,” Geisler said. The waste complex near Carlsbad has remained largely off-limits since the release spread radioactive particles to 22 workers earlier this year.
The Energy Department is examining possible alternative methods of dealing with materials previously scheduled for shipment to the repository, Geisler added.
Fully resuming operations at the subterranean storage site may require up to 36 months, according to oversight officials. A lengthy recovery period would raise questions over how to handle waste containers previously slated for shipment to the facility from Los Alamos, Idaho National Laboratory and other locations, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, the possibility of a contamination threat from problematic waste drums has focused new attention on a legal action against New Mexico’s state government, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported on Friday. The Southwest Research and Information Center’s 2-year-old lawsuit challenges New Mexico’s decision to permit use of a new type of waste container without first consulting the public.
State environment personnel stood by their actions in court last week, according to the New Mexican.
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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.”
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."