WIPP; Leaks Happen, 3rd Party Safety Review Finds Pattern Of Safety Failures

By Barry

The list of troubling events leading up to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) closure on February 15th documented in this Pecos Management Services, Inc. document dated September 2010 and posted on the United States Environmental Protection Agency website clearly indicates issues that have to date never been resolved.

This document is intended as Independent Oversight. http://www.epa.gov/radiation/docs/wipp/pecos/qa_trend_analysis_sep2010.pdf

Meant to be “early detection” of safety risk issues, by collection of individual incident trends for analysis, it calls out a very clear list of problems that should have been addressed by WIPP Management.

The top Three Issues outlined are:

1. Acceptable Knowledge – (employee training – education – or lack thereof). 2014 is vast. The historical references are evident and well

2. Real Time Radiography (testing the contents for Radiation)
• Video tapes NMED staff viewed showed technicians only casually examined the surface of waste in those containers, making it impossible to determine whether prohibited items might be below the surface of the sludge. The perfunctory manner in which visual examination was conducted to characterize the diverse types of waste in those drums was inadequate to describe all the contents in the containers, according to

3. Transportation (accidents with vehicles)
(Pecos Document 10-0004 page 4 )

These are just some the “reported’ incidents. It’s hard to say exactly how many serous mistakes have been made at WIPP over the years, and we may never know the full extent of the problem as workers have so far been unwilling to talk publicly. As the analysis continues – the next items of interest (by number of reported issues) on the list are:

• Training and Qualifications (or lack thereof)
• Visual Examination – (confirming what is in the container)
• Headspace Gas Sampling and Analysis (CO2 levels etc. for worker safety inside
• Non-destructive Assay (explanation from Los Alamos National Labs –LANL)

The term “non-destructive” is a bit misleading – it generally means “other than plutonium or uranium” . . as we know the other elements of nuclear waste are still quite dangerous to humans, and the environment.

(Pecos Document 10-0004 page 5 )
From Ruidoso News – http://www.ruidosonews.com/news/ci_8232219
• casual inspections
February 2006, for which visual examination was inappropriately conducted in lieu of in-depth X-ray inspections know as real-time radiography.

On two occasions mentioned in the above Ruidoso News article – fines were brought to WIPP the amount of almost $1,000,000. – Just imagine how much training, safety equipment (and maybe even a brand new Salt Hauler) that Million dollars could have purchased if the management at WIPP had just been doing their jobs actively managing the WIPP facility as a Nuclear Waste facility – and not just as a casual mining operation?

Dean; “it’s as if they dropped performing the required real-time radiograph.. and just did a visual”

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