U.S. Overseers Fault Nuclear-Waste Practices for New Mexico Leak

Global Security Newswire Staff
Add to Briefcase
Global Security Newswire Staff
April 24, 2014, 9:19 a.m.

Fed­er­al ex­perts blamed shoddy pre­cau­tions and ad­min­is­trat­ive prac­tices for a leak at a New Mex­ico nuc­le­ar-waste site, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­ports.

A “de­grad­a­tion of key safety man­age­ment and safety cul­ture” was cent­ral to the Feb. 14 con­tam­in­a­tion breach at the Waste Isol­a­tion Pi­lot Plant, said Ted Wyka, head of the En­ergy De­part­ment Ac­ci­dent In­vest­ig­a­tion Board. He dis­cussed pan­el find­ings that were sched­uled for pub­lic­a­tion on Thursday.

“The bot­tom line is they failed to be­lieve ini­tial in­dic­a­tions of the re­lease,” Wyka said.

The site’s sub­ter­ranean tun­nels have re­mained off-lim­its to most per­son­nel fol­low­ing the in­cid­ent, which took place days after an un­re­lated vehicle fire. An ad­vance crew on Wed­nes­day re-entered a stor­age area where es­caped ra­dio­act­ive ma­ter­i­al had been loc­ated last week, but the group did not find any in­dic­a­tion that a ceil­ing had fallen or a waste bar­rel had rup­tured.

Per­son­nel took more than 10 hours to re­act to the ini­tial alert in Feb­ru­ary, and a vent­il­a­tion mech­an­ism al­lowed un­filtered air to pass out of the fa­cil­ity, ac­cord­ing to the En­ergy De­part­ment as­sess­ment. In­vest­ig­at­ors faul­ted fol­low-up ac­tions by the de­part­ment, as well as the site’s emer­gency pre­pared­ness, re­pair sched­ule, and a lack of plans for pla­cing con­tam­in­a­tion sensors.

De­fense Nuc­le­ar Fa­cil­it­ies Safety Board Chair­man Peter Winok­ur said 100 times more ra­di­ation might have drif­ted above ground had work­ers not re­act­iv­ated a warn­ing sys­tem dis­abled for roughly six days after the fire, the Wall Street Journ­al re­por­ted on Wed­nes­day.

An En­ergy De­part­ment spokes­wo­man said the agency “is as­sess­ing all as­pects” of the fire and leak, and an­ti­cip­ates “some sig­ni­fic­ant changes.”

Bob Mc­Quinn, head of the con­tract firm Nuc­le­ar Waste Part­ner­ship, ac­know­ledged faults in the re­sponse moun­ted by the fa­cil­ity’s op­er­at­or, AP re­por­ted. He af­firmed that re­forms be­ing made in ad­min­is­trat­ive pro­ced­ures, per­son­nel pre­par­a­tions and oth­er activ­it­ies would “as­sure that every haz­ard that is posed by WIPP is ex­amined.”

What We're Following See More »
ORDER REMAINS BLOCKED
Federal Appeals Court Upholds Ruling Against Travel Ban
11 hours ago
THE LATEST

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals "has upheld the nationwide block of President Donald Trump's executive order restricting travel from several predominantly Muslim countries. ... It upholds the suspension of a revised version of the executive order that the Trump administration crafted to better hold up to legal scrutiny than an earlier version."

Source:
CITES CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Lieberman Withdraws from Consideration for FBI Job
11 hours ago
THE LATEST
MINIMUM 2 PERCENT GDP
Trump Tells NATO Countries To Pay Up
14 hours ago
BREAKING
MANAFORT AND FLYNN
Russians Discussed Influencing Trump Through Aides
16 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Source:
BUT WHITE HOUSE MAY USE AGAINST HIM ANYWAY
Ethics Cops Clear Mueller to Work on Trump Case
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."

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