Possible radiation leak at New Mexico military nuclear waste site

Comments (39)
Verg wrote:

Is it safe?

Feb 16, 2014 6:52am EST  --  Report as abuse
jscott418 wrote:

I think its clear human’s never properly thought out nuclear material disposal. You would think considering what we knew about the material. We would have at least stored it so as the medium for its storage would out last its toxic period. Unfortunately that’s hundreds of years at best and I think a major leak was inevitable.

Feb 16, 2014 6:57am EST  --  Report as abuse
raroman wrote:

Mexico has Nukes? This must be an Onion parody.

Feb 16, 2014 7:02am EST  --  Report as abuse
raroman wrote:

Mexico has Nukes? This must be an Onion parody.

Feb 16, 2014 7:02am EST  --  Report as abuse
Eideard wrote:

Headline is wrong. WIPP is a DOE site/project. Not military. Collects low-level waste ranging from labs to hospitals. Higher-level waste, e.g., Los Alamos plutonium, still stored where produced.

Feb 16, 2014 7:31am EST  --  Report as abuse
Eideard wrote:

Headline is wrong. WIPP is a DOE site/project. Not military. Collects low-level waste ranging from labs to hospitals. Higher-level waste, e.g., Los Alamos plutonium, still stored where produced.

Feb 16, 2014 7:31am EST  --  Report as abuse
alphaRomeo2 wrote:

Something this serious and Roger Nelson’s first response is to cast doubt on whether it is a real alarm–that should be grounds for termination or a serious demotion, I don’t care if he is only a spokesperson. You always treat a potentially lethal matter as a real alarm until proven otherwise. It’s scary that this is the kind of leadership responsible for radioactive sites around the country. I don’t think this guy is intending to parody Homer Simpson either.

Feb 16, 2014 9:22am EST  --  Report as abuse
njglea wrote:

Bill Gates is working on a way to neutralize nuclear waste. It will change the world if he is successful and if the cure is affordable. Wonder if he, like Jonas Salk, will have the courage to give the research to the world for the good of humankind instead of making unthinkable profit from it?

Feb 16, 2014 10:25am EST  --  Report as abuse
boon2247 wrote:

According to General Atomics (who deals almost exclusively with the government), they have a reactor that uses the waste the government can’t seem to dispose of, as a fuel. It’s called the EM2, or Energy Multiplier Module, which claims to be a stand alone system with no need for a external cooling system, among other things which are weaknesses in current nuclear plants. If true, why are these things being fast tracked and brought into the public systems generating all this waste? Simply put, there is no real pressure from the government to do so. The military is more concerned with new drone tech than cleaning up the environment.

Feb 16, 2014 11:04am EST  --  Report as abuse
2Borknot2B wrote:

The government is supposed to Protect US from “invaders” and it is them.

Feb 16, 2014 11:38am EST  --  Report as abuse
2Borknot2B wrote:

Carlsbad Caverns needs to be tested, that whole area is connected. From at least the Bottomless lake all the way into Texas. That whole area could liquefact under the right circumstances.

Feb 16, 2014 12:20pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Wijiji wrote:

The answer to raroman’s question is: yes, quite a few in fact. However, they’re not stored at WIPP. They’re stored in an underground facility on Kirtland AFB south of Albuquerque. In Google Earth, you can still see the old facility southeast of the city: “Four Hills” surrounded by concentric fence lines, and you can even see the entrances to the new facility south of the airport if you know where to look.

As stated before, WIPP is tasked with storing low-level radioactive waste: mostly waste from civilian industrial and medical activities and DOE bomb related work, though there is some military waste that makes the cut there as well. The location of WIPP was chosen because salt domes are extremely stable and thought capable of encapsulating the waste safely for millenna.

What’s troubling about this news is that it follows an underground fire at WIPP a couple of weeks ago. Add that to WIPP’s desire to handle higher level waste and it becomes obvious that we need more information on the nature of the leak.

Feb 16, 2014 12:22pm EST  --  Report as abuse
radhealth2015 wrote:

Where I worked at a research reactor once the radiation detectors were so sensitive that the sun caused them to go off when it rose in the morning. The minute amounts of radiation from the sun caused interactions with the water in the ground. That is how sensitive the detectors are.

No radiation escaped according to the article, radiation exposure is extremely regulated in the US. The limits for the public are four orders of magnitude below what can cause detectable effect on the human body. Most plants are engineered as zero radiation release plants anyways.

Where I worked once there were facility air monitors and another detection system whose name escapes me. When we made argon for the refineries/chemical industry in Texas are detectors when off all the time. There were a bunch of false alarms too. None of them were at the level that could cause harm.

To answer some of the comments below me, yes it is safe assuming the info in the article is accurate. I wish the article provided some numbers so the people like me could independently evaluate what happened.

For those of you who don’t know the WIPP is a facility used for the storage of nuclear weapons production waste by the military. It is located right on the Texas/New Mexico border.

It was originally also developed to store the nuclear waste from the commercial industry. Despite the fact that New Mexico volunteered to store the waste a minority of environmentalists from the other side of the country (California) took the government hostage to force the nuclear waste not to be buried. That was the only reason Yucca Mountain had to be built in the first place.

The salt formation WIPP is buried in will last well over 150 million years and stretches from mid New mexico to western Texas. The National Academy of Sciences worked out how to bury the nuclear waste in the 1950′s.

Considering that 96% of the nuclear waste can be recycled and the massive amount of energy in it, not one in nuclear power has ever considered it really as waste in the first place. I have even heard some call permanent disposal of the unspent nuclear fuel as a crime against humanity.

The political position of the state of California is that the WIPP does not exist, otherwise they would have to allow the construction of nuclear reactors. They offer tours alongside a nearby URENCO enrichment facility, but you of course have to pass an extensive security background check. I once knew the guy who helped design the environmental safety systems at WIPP.

He works at Texas A&M now, any questions I would suggest emailing them since I am not an expert in this subject.

Feb 16, 2014 2:16pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Wijiji wrote:

To answer raroman’s question: yes, New Mexico has nukes. Quite a few actually. They’re not stored at WIPP, but in an underground facility on Kirtland AFB south of Albuquerque. In Google Earth, you can see the old storage facility southeast of the city: the “Four Hills” ringed by fence lines. You can see the entrances to the current facility south of the airport if you know where the look. Though the military won’t confirm or deny, these nukes are probably obsolete, decommissioned, or not currently needed for active service.

WIPP is located over some very stable salt domes. Small pockets of water trapped in the salt are millions of years old, attesting to how stable and impermeable the domes are. This is one of the reasons behind current exploratory talks to allow WIPP to store highly radioactive materials in contrast to the less radioactive industrial, medical, and DOE wastes it’s allowed to take now.

That said, with the second incident in just a few weeks, WIPP shouldn’t be allowed to take any more wastes, let alone higher grade
and more dangerous materials, until the current problems are fully resolved.

Feb 16, 2014 2:33pm EST  --  Report as abuse
PeteWilson wrote:

And this is the same place where they are begging to store high level radioactive waste? Leaking radiation from contaminated clothing and tools is one thing. Imagine if this leak involved spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants. Then this leak would be getting a lot more attention. Carlsbad is now officially out of the running to replace Yucca Mountain.

Feb 16, 2014 4:53pm EST  --  Report as abuse
PeteWilson wrote:

And this is the same place where they are begging to store high level radioactive waste? Leaking radiation from contaminated clothing and tools is one thing. Imagine if this leak involved spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants. Then this leak would be getting a lot more attention. Carlsbad is now officially out of the running to replace Yucca Mountain.

Feb 16, 2014 4:53pm EST  --  Report as abuse
PeteWilson wrote:

And this is the same place where they are begging to store high level radioactive waste? Leaking radiation from contaminated clothing and tools is one thing. Imagine if this leak involved spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants. Then this leak would be getting a lot more attention. Carlsbad is now officially out of the running to replace Yucca Mountain.

Feb 16, 2014 4:53pm EST  --  Report as abuse
ObamaSuxIt wrote:

Send

Feb 16, 2014 5:03pm EST  --  Report as abuse
mark_kaskin wrote:

Global warming caused it!

Feb 16, 2014 5:11pm EST  --  Report as abuse
SRBilagaana wrote:

EM2 produces a miniscule amount of weapons grade plutonium. Therefore, it is rated as a “breeder” reactor and connot be owned in the private sector or used for electrical generation on a commercial scale.

Feb 16, 2014 5:14pm EST  --  Report as abuse
SRBilagaana wrote:

EM2 produces a miniscule amount of weapons grade plutonium. Therefore, it is rated as a “breeder” reactor and connot be owned in the private sector or used for electrical generation on a commercial scale.
Same reason we can’t “recycle” used fuel rods.

Feb 16, 2014 5:16pm EST  --  Report as abuse
johnciacci wrote:

Ooh…there’s a NEW Mexico!

Feb 16, 2014 5:18pm EST  --  Report as abuse
a_patriot wrote:

Not news.

The response was proper, the lack of rad exposure on personnell tends to prove no leak.

The response was exactly what it should have been.

But, sadly, the Trolls posting Red Herring about how the entire US nuclear industry is faulty because of a malfunctioning alarm only goes to prove that the anti nuke crowd has no platform to preach from, so they must lie, deny and trot out Red Herring, because they dont have anything else to cry about.

Feb 16, 2014 5:19pm EST  --  Report as abuse
yarply wrote:

The activist were right. Nuclear waste is going to kill us all.

Feb 16, 2014 6:36pm EST  --  Report as abuse

it needs to be placed in the deep of the ocean, were one layer is pushed under the other, let it be swallowed back into the earth under the pressure and heat and the earth will reprocess it, hopefully.

Feb 16, 2014 7:03pm EST  --  Report as abuse

A milli-microgram of inhaled Pu238 can kill you from lung cancer.

Feb 16, 2014 7:05pm EST  --  Report as abuse
disengage wrote:

thinks, maybe, could, with all the money dumped into these contracts, who the heck is supposed to know??????…obama and agencies, get your act together, before your sloppiness kills us all

Feb 16, 2014 7:07pm EST  --  Report as abuse

six of 149 single shell tanks are right now leaking under ground ar Hanford, enter ”Hanford repository leaks” in your fav search engine.

Feb 16, 2014 7:11pm EST  --  Report as abuse
RobStPaulMN wrote:

I lived in NM in the years before WIPP, and met an independent scientist, Dr. Richard Phillips, who had done extensive research on the groundwater and geology, geophysics of the area around Carlsbad. He found lots of water leaching between layers of karst at the site. I read the paper myself, and I thought, how can they build this, with even a chance of there being water there? Its supposed to be permanent isolation! His testimony at the hearings was swept under the rug. WIPP was built, and the waste is being shipped there, lots of it, the whole program being extremely expensive. The containers are safe, they are tough enough, but I believe the site never has been. Thankfully it is well below ground, but I would like to know the type of radiation which would indicate the source. Jeez, that’s all we need, a leak!

Feb 16, 2014 7:12pm EST  --  Report as abuse
GFL46 wrote:

This certainly is not good news for the nuclear power industry, and with the Fukushima disaster now in its 3rd year, I’m hoping it’s the death knell for nuclear.
Even so we’re still left with the waste issue.
What is apparent is the fact that we’re not ready to deal with nuclear power!

Feb 16, 2014 8:18pm EST  --  Report as abuse

New Mexico moron!

Feb 16, 2014 8:31pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Twinja wrote:

Clowns, the lot of them! The nuclear industry will poison us all! Every plant needs to be shut down, just look at Fukushima!

Feb 16, 2014 8:50pm EST  --  Report as abuse
roc1 wrote:

The half-life for these materials is likely thousands of years. Hence the reason they are stored in a salt mine – if the containers fail, seal up the mine and walk away.

Feb 16, 2014 9:20pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Bakhtin wrote:

a_patriot wrote:
“1. It’s not relevant what you think, especially since you admit knowing nothing by predicating the false and misleading statements you are about to make by “I think”

“I think” is not a predicate.

a_patriot wrote:
“2.Nuclear storage WAS thought out, and carefully and successfully, from the 1930s. The Hanford repository proves it, the waste storage tanks are 20 some years past design life and still safely working.”

You are factually wrong.

“Six tanks holding radioactive waste at the U.S. Energy Department’s Hanford site in Washington are leaking, more than reported earlier, Governor Jay Inslee said.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-22/six-nuclear-waste-tanks-leaking-at-washington-state-site.html

“The Hanford site is one of the largest cleanup projects in the United States costing over 1.4 million per day[11] to turn over 53 million gallons of nuclear waste into glass through a process called vitrification.[12] The process is proving to be one of the most dangerous in the world,[13] but is essential to staving off nuclear contamination of the nearby Columbia River.[14] Original estimates were 2.8 billion dollars over five years to cleanup the waste,[15] though estimates quickly grew in the early 90s to 50 billion with a completion date of thirty years.[16] Costs are now projected at 112 billion dollars and an estimated completion date of 2065.[17]”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tri-Cities,_Washington#Modern_Hanford

a_patriot wrote:
“4. “We would have at least stored it so as the medium for its storage would out last its toxic period.”

Stupdi statement, the term this poster does not know is “half life” and thats upwards of TENS of THOUSANDS of years”

jscott418 said toxic because he meant toxic. If he meant half-life he would have said half-life. Clearly he knows the difference and you don’t. Most spent nuclear fuel is toxic for around 50 years; MOX for around 150.

“In fact, after 40 years there is only about one thousandth as much radioactivity as when the reactor is switched off to unload the used fuel.”

“Most nuclear wastes produced are hazardous, due to their radioactivity, for only a few tens of years and are routinely disposed in near-surface disposal facilities.”
http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Nuclear-Fuel-Cycle/Nuclear-Wastes/Radioactive-Wastes—Myths-and-Realities/

a_patriot wrote:
“We DO have such technology, its called vitrification, and the Harry Reid and Barack Obama team have done all they can to STOP IT by illegally shutting Yucca mountain down, and hampering Hanford cleanup by not funding the project”

Vitrification is containment, not a solution, and it is a very poor and expensive solution (see above).

You are also factually wrong again. Yucca Mountain is a storage area. Defunding that has nothing to do with vitrification. It simply means that vit plants store on site.

A far better, cheaper, tried-and-tested solution would be reprocessing.

Feb 17, 2014 12:53am EST  --  Report as abuse
DeMuizen wrote:

Some of you might like this…
There’s an app that shows all 1100 US nuclear bombs test.
And it also has all military sites where they store nukes.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.puppycoder.nukeusa

Feb 17, 2014 7:36am EST  --  Report as abuse
PeteWilson wrote:

And this is the same place where they are begging to store high level radioactive waste? Leaking radiation from contaminated clothing and tools is one thing. Imagine if this leak involved spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants. Then this leak would be getting a lot more attention. Carlsbad is now officially out of the running to replace Yucca Mountain.

Feb 17, 2014 11:03am EST  --  Report as abuse
PeteWilson wrote:

And this is the same place where they are begging to store high level radioactive waste? Leaking radiation from contaminated clothing and tools is one thing. Imagine if this leak involved spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants. Then this leak would be getting a lot more attention. Carlsbad is now officially out of the running to replace Yucca Mountain.

Feb 17, 2014 11:04am EST  --  Report as abuse
xixixixix wrote:

Radiation leak? Not to worry. There is no “immediate” health threat

It’ll be 10-20 years before the cancer and leukemia appear.

Feb 20, 2014 6:37am EST  --  Report as abuse
xixixixix wrote:

Airborne radioactivity? Pfft…Not to worry. There’s no “immediate” health threat. The cancer and leukemia won’t appear for YEARS!

Feb 20, 2014 6:46am EST  --  Report as abuse
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