More Nuke Waste Barrels Found in TX

Friday, June 13, 2014 @ 06:06 PM gHale

Scientists investigating a mysterious radiation leak at the federal government’s underground nuclear waste dump found five other potentially explosive containers of waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory stored at a site in Texas.

So far, scientists have not been able to replicate the chemical event believed to have a caused a drum to breach at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Feb. 14, contaminating 22 workers. But they have tied the barrel to a waste stream from Los Alamos with an unusually high acid level.

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That waste packed into six drums, including the one at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, New Mexico. The rest are among more than 100 that shipped from Los Alamos to Waste Control Specialists in Andrews, Texas, after the leak indefinitely shuttered the New Mexico facility. That NM facility is the federal government’s only permanent repository for waste from decades of building nuclear bombs.

Chuck McDonald, spokesman for Waste Control Specialists, said all the drums there received special packing and are under constant monitoring.

Los Alamos and Waste Control Specialists took a series of extra measures to secure the more than 100 drums left in limbo by the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’s closure because they ended up packed with cat litter to absorb moisture. A leading theory is that a switch by Los Alamos from inorganic to organic cat litter helped fuel the “heat event” that popped the lid off the 55-gallon barrel that leaked at the nuclear waste dump.

The Department of Energy has dozens of scientists trying to identifying what type of reaction could have caused the leak. It would be months, however, before they can find a definitive cause.

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