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 »
AN ENGLISHMAN IN MISSISSIPPI
Nigel Farage: Trump Can Beat Polls
55 minutes ago
THE LATEST

Nigel Farage, who led the Brexit effort in the United Kingdom, appeared at a Trump rally in Mississippi yesterday. Farage told the 15,000-strong crowd: "Remember, anything is possible if enough decent people are prepared to stand up against the establishment."

Source:
MOB RULE?
Trump on Immigration: ‘I Don’t Know, You Tell Me’
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”

Source:
BIG CHANGE FROM WHEN HE SELF-FINANCED
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Source:
QUESTIONS OVER IMMIGRATION POLICY
Trump Cancels Rallies
2 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Source:
‘STRATEGY AND MESSAGING’
Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
2 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”

Source:
×