Read the Beforeitsnews.com story here. Advertise at Before It's News here.
Profile image
By This Can't Be Happening
Contributor profile | More stories
Story Views
Now:
Last hour:
Last 24 hours:
Total:

Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.


From WIPP with love
by: Paul DeRienzo

There is a place in the United States, almost half-a-mile underground, in a salt mine, where radioactive waste leftover from the production of tens of thousands of nuclear bombs was to be held separate from all contact with humanity for 10,000 years, equivalent to the entire history of civilization. This separation of civilization from the byproduct of its folly had lasted one-tenth of one percent of that immense time when on Valentine’s Day, three years ago, an explosion sent the deadly contamination back to the world of humans.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise because there were already two other failed geological repositories for nuclear waste, both in Germany and designed for civilian not military waste, that have also leaked within a short time of operation. But despite the signs of potential failure the United States in an leap of technological faith spent billions to hollow out a salt cavern in south eastern New Mexico, near the small town of Carlsbad, not far from the Texas border called the Waste Isolation pilot Plant or WIPP.

That faith wasn’t justified as events unfolded.

Supposedly safe for storage for 10,000 years, WIPP’s nuke waste repository failed catastrophically in just three years
 

What happened on August 14, 2014 was that at least one of 683 barrels, about three feet tall and a little under two feet in diameter each and filled with plutonium contaminated waste burst into flames contaminating 8000 feet of tunnels and 22 workers who were either on the surface or arrived at the scene soon afterward.

The still unfinished clean up has cost taxpayers $2 billion since then.

Called transuranic or TRU by the industry the waste is the byproduct of 75 years of nuclear weapons production. In the case of the WIPP that waste had originated in New Mexico at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, one of the three places in the United States where nuclear weapons are designed and developed. TRU waste tends to be plutonium contaminated clothing, tools and test materials, the US has at least an Empire State Building full of the stuff, maybe twice that amount and it’s deadly to humans, a powerful carcinogen and a potential explosive, especially the chemicals that the usually soak the plutonium-contaminated waste.

The Los Alamos waste had been stored in barrels on the mesa near Santa Fe for about 15 years without problems until it was shipped to WIPP to be buried forever. As the barrels arrived at the remote desert location they were stored above ground and workers began the process of preparing the barrels for burial. Contained among the solid waste in the barrels was a liquid, mostly nitric acid, an extremely caustic chemical that’s used to tease plutonium out of uranium to make nuclear bombs.

Regulations forbid liquid waste from burial at WIPP so the idea was to pack the barrels with an absorbing material. One of the most absorbent is kitty litter.

Kitty litter itself is not explosive, in fact it’s a good absorbent. The problem was well known for decades: it’s not wise to put chemicals together that can have a chemical reaction and explosion.

What happened at WIPP on Valentine’s Day in 2014 has never been exactly clarified. What is known is that the kitty litter used was chemically incompatible. It absorbed the liquid but it also reacted with the chemicals in the barrel. All 683 barrels from Los Alamos shipped to WIPP and brought underground share this problem. A problem also shared by 100 barrels stranded on the surface by the accident. Those 100 barrels were shipped to a low level dump site in Texas called Waste Control Specialists. WCS had been owned by Harold Simmons a well connected Texas billionaire investor and GOP backer best known for funding the Swift Boat veterans group that opposed presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.

According to Don Hancock, one of the nation’s leading experts on nuclear waste and director of the Southwest Research and Information Center the explosion at WIPP “was not supposed to happen.” Hancock said that the explosion occurred “as a result of contractors and regulators who were not paying attention and doing the right thing.” Hancock adds that the regulations to prevent the explosion at WIPP already did exist and it was the “enforcing of the regulation that wasn’t adequate.”

Hancock insists that the regulations already on the books would be enough, but that nuclear weapons have often evaded oversight because of their strategic military role.

The problem lies in the long history of America’s nuclear weapons complex which was top secret during World War II and decades of cold war with the Soviet Union. Nuclear weapons production and the waste stream it produced was kept from public knowledge for decades. In Hanford along the Columbia river in Washington where plutonium for the bomb dropped on Nagasaki was made, waste was either released directly into the environment or later stored in now leaky and outmoded tanks.

After the last reactor was shut down the 585 square mile site was transformed into the largest nuclear waste dump in the western hemisphere and as a result two-thirds of the high level nuclear waste in the United States is now stored on the site about 200 miles southeast of Seattle.

With no real federal regulation the massive facility operated largely in secret until 1986. Through a series of lawsuits the state gained some control of the hazardous waste stored at Hanford but experts like Hancock say some officials are convinced that nuclear weapons sites should be independent of state oversight.

Tom Carpenter is the Executive Director of the Hanford Challenge, an organization that defends whistleblowers and works with unions working on Hanford’s projected century-long multi-billion dollar clean up. Bechtel Corp, runs the operation for the Department of Energy, a $30-billion per year cabinet-level organization responsible for the design, development and construction of nuclear weapons.

Despite the department’s title little of DOE’s work is related to energy production. Instead DOE hands off the finished weapons it builds to the Defense Department which has direct control of the bomb’s storage and use. The separate Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversees commercial and civilian owned nuclear reactors and isn’t related to national defense.

“Hanford,” Carpenter said, “is scheduled to send a lot of plutonium contaminated waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.”

Adding that close to 80,000 barrels of deadly Hanford waste are supposed to go to WIPP. That waste, containing plutonium mixed with a vast array of deadly chemicals is currently leaking into the ground water and eventually the Columbia River upstream of several large cities.

read more

A news collective, founded as a blog in 2004, covering war, politics, environment, economy, culture and all the madness



Source: http://thiscantbehappening.net/node/3460


Before It’s News® is a community of individuals who report on what’s going on around them, from all around the world.

Anyone can join.
Anyone can contribute.
Anyone can become informed about their world.

"United We Stand" Click Here To Create Your Personal Citizen Journalist Account Today, Be Sure To Invite Your Friends.

Please Help Support BeforeitsNews by trying our Natural Health Products below!


Order by Phone at 888-809-8385 or online at https://mitocopper.com M - F 9am to 5pm EST

Order by Phone at 888-388-7003 or online at https://www.herbanomic.com M - F 9am to 5pm EST

Order by Phone at 888-388-7003 or online at https://www.herbanomics.com M - F 9am to 5pm EST


Humic & Fulvic Trace Minerals Complex - Nature's most important supplement! Vivid Dreams again!

HNEX HydroNano EXtracellular Water - Improve immune system health and reduce inflammation

Ultimate Clinical Potency Curcumin - Natural pain relief, reduce inflammation and so much more.

MitoCopper - Bioavailable Copper destroys pathogens and gives you more energy. (See Blood Video)
Oxy Powder - Natural Colon Cleanser!  Cleans out toxic buildup with oxygen! 
Nascent Iodine - Promotes detoxification, mental focus and thyroid health.
Smart Meter Cover -  Reduces Smart Meter radiation by 96%!  (See Video)

Report abuse

    Comments

    Your Comments
    Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

    MOST RECENT
    Load more ...

    SignUp

    Login

    Newsletter

    Email this story
    Email this story

    If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

    If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.