Cat Litter’s Role in Nuclear Leak Still Unproven

Global Security Newswire Staff
June 30, 2014, 8:35 a.m.

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.

What We're Following See More »
Hillary Clinton Accepts the Democratic Nomination for President
3 hours ago

"It is with humility, determination, and boundless confidence in America’s promise that I accept your nomination for president," said Hillary Clinton in becoming the first woman to accept a nomination for president from a major party. Clinton gave a wide-ranging address, both criticizing Donald Trump and speaking of what she has done in the past and hopes to do in the future. "He's taken the Republican party a long way, from morning in America to midnight in America," Clinton said of Trump. However, most of her speech focused instead on the work she has done and the work she hopes to do as president. "I will be a president of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. For the struggling, the striving, the successful," she said. "For those who vote for me and for those who don't. For all Americans together."

Protesters Make Good on Threat to Disrupt Speech
3 hours ago

Supporters of Bernie Sanders promised to walk out, turn their backs, or disrupt Hillary Clinton's speech tonight, and they made good immediately, with an outburst almost as soon as Clinton began her speech. But her supporters, armed with a handy counter-chant cheat sheet distributed by the campaign, immediately began drowning them out with chants of "Hillary, Hillary!"

New Survey Shows Clinton Up 9 in Pennsylvania
12 hours ago

If a new poll is to be believed, Hillary Clinton has a big lead in the all-important swing state of Pennsylvania. A new Suffolk University survey shows her ahead of Donald Trump, 50%-41%. In a four-way race, she maintains her nine-point lead, 46%-37%. "Pennsylvania has voted Democratic in the past six presidential elections, going back to Bill Clinton’s first win in 1992. Yet it is a rust belt state that could be in play, as indicated by recent general-election polling showing a close race."

Democrats Beat Republicans in Convention Ratings So Far
12 hours ago

Wednesday was the third night in a row that the Democratic convention enjoyed a ratings win over the Republican convention last week. Which might have prompted a fundraising email from Donald Trump exhorting supporters not to watch. "Unless you want to be lied to, belittled, and attacked for your beliefs, don't watch Hillary's DNC speech tonight," the email read. "Instead, help Donald Trump hold her accountable, call out her lies and fight back against her nasty attacks."

Catholics, Highly Educated Moving Toward Dems
16 hours ago

Catholics who attend mass at least weekly have increased their support of the Democratic nominee by 22 points, relative to 2012, when devout Catholics backed Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, a Morning Consult poll shows that those voters with advanced degrees prefer Hillary Clinton, 51%-34%. Which, we suppose, makes the ideal Clinton voter a Catholic with a PhD in divinity.