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

Global Security Newswire Staff
Add to Briefcase
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 »
WOULD HAVE BEEN HIS SECOND STINT
Howard Dean Pulls out of DNC Race
38 minutes ago
THE LATEST

Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee chair, announced he's pulling out of the running to regain the chairman's post. Dean "announced in a pre-recorded video to a conference of state Democratic chairs that he would step aside to allow for a new face to lead the party as it seeks to rebuild."

Source:
RUBENSTEIN FUNDING ELEVATOR REPAIR
Washington Monument Closed until 2019
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Once again, businessman and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein has come through for the National Park Service. This time, he's pledged funding needed to modernize the Washington Monument's elevator-- but the monument will remain closed until 2019 while repairs and improvements are underway. Rubenstein's donation of between $2-3 million, announced Friday, will correct those ongoing elevator issues, which have shuttered the monument since August 17."

Source:
$618 BILLION IN FUNDING
By a Big Margin, House Passes Defense Bill
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The National Defense Authorization Act passed the House this morning by a 375-34 vote. The bill, which heads to the Senate next week for final consideration, would fund the military to the tune of $618.7 billion, "about $3.2 billion more than the president requested for fiscal 2017. ... The White House has issued a veto threat on both the House and Senate-passed versions of the bill, but has not yet said if it will sign the compromise bill released by the conference committee this week."

Source:
FILED BY JILL STEIN
Michigan Attorney General Sues to End Recount
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

Bill Schuette, Michigan's attorney general, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the state to halt the recount of the state's voting results. The recount was elected by Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Schuette says the recount shouldn't occur because Stein cited no evidence of voter fraud or tabulation error.

Source:
SUCCEEDS UPTON
Walden to Chair Energy and Commerce Committee
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Republicans have elected Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) the next chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. Walden defeated Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Joe Barton (R-TX), the former committee chairman, in the race for the gavel" to succeed Michgan's Fred Upton.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login