Wednesday, 26 February 2014

New Mexixo nuclear plant radiation - admitted

Warning: New Mexico Nuclear Power Plant Leaking Radiation

25 February, 2014

Since Obama was re-elected there seems to be a string of disasters unlike anything ever seen in this nations history. From the engineered gulf oil spill to the chemical spill in West Virginia and everything in between. Order out of Chaos continues.

New Mexico officials investigating a leak from the federal government’s only underground nuclear waste dump tried to reassure skeptical southeastern New Mexico residents Monday night that their health is safe.

More than 250 people attended a two-hour meeting to ask questions about back-to-back accidents at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad and the first-known release of radiation from the repository.
I’m just a mom,” said Anna Hovrud, “and my first reaction was to start praying. … Basically I am not understanding about two-thirds of what has been said here. Is there a chance we could be exposed to radiation, that we are being poisoned somehow, while we are waiting for these samples?”
Joe Franco, who manages the Department of Energy’s Carlsbad office, told Hovrud “there is no risk from this event that would be a hazard to you or your children.”
Farok Sharif, president of the Nuclear Waste Partnership that runs the plant, told Hovrud his family also lives in the community. And he said he has been to the site repeatedly in the past week — without protective gear — to gather readings “because I know it is safe.”
The elevated amounts of radiation that have been detected in and around the plant offer no more risk than a dental X-ray or an airline flight, officials said.
Still, some left skeptical.
I feel like they are not telling us everything,” said Leah Hunt.
Police were briefly brought to the doors after a man who identified himself as Martin Mills, a mayoral candidate, repeatedly and heatedly interrupted officials as they tried to respond.
This is like poor management,” Mills insisted. “How can this facility be leaking? … It should not be releasing at all.”
Many others, however, said they are confident in the plant’s safety record and safety systems.
I’m not leaving with any worries,” said Wanda Durham. “I’m not moving.”
After 15 years of operating with a stellar record, a truck that officials said was hauling salt in the facility’s underground chambers caught fire Feb. 5, shuttering the plant and halting all waste shipments. Nine days later, a radiation alert activated in the area where newly arrived waste was being stored.
Officials said they’re confident that the incidents are unrelated.
An initial analysis of samples from sensors inside and outside the plant indicate a container leaked. But officials say it is unclear what caused the release, and it will likely be weeks before teams can get underground.
WIPP is the nation’s first underground nuclear repository and the only facility in the country that can store plutonium-contaminated clothing and tools from Los Alamos National Laboratory and other federal nuclear sites.
Critical Reads: More News Mainstream Media Chooses To Ignore By Josey Wales, Click Here! 

Serious "radiation incident" at NM waste facility has public concerned


23 February, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY – While being played down and barely even reported in the national media, a fairly serious radiological event occurred at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, a federally-operated nuclear waste repository 26 miles northwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico on Feb. 14, 2014.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reported on Feb. 19, 2014 that a “radiation event” took place sometime between Feb. 11 and Feb. 16, 2014. Released from the salt mines 2,150 feet below ground, where the nuclear waste is stored were trace amounts of americium and plutonium.

John Heaton, chairman of the Carlsbad Nuclear Task Force reportedly said: “At this time there is no concern. We definitely know that the amounts are miniscule. I think the risks are extremely low and I certainly have no worries about it personally.”

Heaton said he does not want the public to jump to any “rash conclusions” about the “radiation event.” He said investigators will have to go underground and look to see what happened within the next month or so.

Another person interviewed for the Current-Argus report was Russell Hardy, director of the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center. He assured the public that americium and plutonium are “heavy” and won’t travel far from the original source.

CEMRC and the Department of Energy have been working hard to downplay the seriousness of this event and information on where the wind may have blown the plutonium and americium is scarce. CEMRC, interestingly enough, is offering folks living within 100 miles of the WIPP facility to get free tests if they think they have been somehow exposed.

Hardy, meanwhile, reiterated that his personnel at the New Mexico State University-affiliated CEMRC “have detected trace amounts of the radioactive isotopes americium and plutonium on an air filter from an ambient air sampling station located approximately six-tenths of a mile northwest” of the WIPP facility.

What caused this event still remains unclear. The investigative research blog, reported this past Thursday that their research concluded that “All indications are that this was a radiation induced explosion of hydrogen, methane and/or VOC produced from radioactive wastes which are too radioactive to handle, which also happen to be coated with hazardous waste.”

There is also reportedly a "Russian connection" to WIPP, according to this report - a report we have been unable to independently verify.

Curiously, a little over a week before the Feb. 14 “radiation event,” a salt truck operating underground at the WIPP’s north mine, caught on fire, resulting in the evacuation of all WIPP personnel. While the DOE was investigating the cause of the truck fire, “the radiation leak occurred,” reports the Current-Argus. It is thought that there may have been a plutonium release connected with that incident as well, although it is not confirmed.

WIPP is the nation’s only disposal facility for transuranic waste, commonly referred to as “TRU” waste, which is radioactive material generated from the nation’s nuclear weapons program during the Cold War era,” reports the Current-Argus.

The Current-Argus reporter following the story, Zack Ponce, reported that tomorrow – Monday, Feb. 24, a town hall, looking to answer questions from the public, will be held at the Pecos River Village Center Carousel House in Carlsbad.

This forum will allow the members of the public the direct opportunity to ask WIPP officials their questions,” said Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway in a Current-Argus report.

And there is a lot officials still don’t know about this “radiation event.” The Albuquerque-based Southwest Research & Information Center – SRIC – notes that there are many things still unknown about this serious event, including:

1.What caused the released.

2. What was the nature of the release that allowed some contaminants to travel more than a mile-and-a-half.

3. What radionuclides in what amounts and what toxic chemicals in what amounts have been released.

4. Where all the contaminants that were not captured (by the filters) are, whether inside the WIPP boundary or outside the site area.

And those are just a few of the questions SRIC is currently asking.

Meanwhile, “downwinders” in New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma should be on alert, according to the Feb. 22, 2014 report from in their article “Plutonium release from the WIPP radioactive waste facility.”

Wind-trajectory maps from the Valentine’s Day nuke release shows cities in the path of the plutonium to include Roswell, New Mexico, the Texas cities of Lubbock, San Angelo and Wichita Falls, and Elk City, Oklahoma.

The report adds: “At any rate, people who live in areas of southeastern New Mexico, northwest Texas and western Oklahoma should all be concerned.”

Here is a link to the dispersion map provided at

And recall that this past December, Red Dirt Report reported on a “fire” that took place at Unit 2 of the Arkansas Nuclear One plant in Russellville. As with the WIPP facility accident, the Arkansas Nuclear One accident was hardly reported.

And while we are on the subject of nuclear disasters, on Feb. 28, 2014, at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, there will be an event called “Nuclear Remembrance Day” held on the 60th anniversary of the catastrophic Castle Bravo hydrogen bomb test that was conducted on Bikini Atoll on March 1, 1954 in the Marshall Islands. The fallout of that nuclear test created a horrific humanitarian nightmare over generations, including high rates of thyroid cancer, leukemia and other radiation-induced diseases.

Of course the media does not like revisiting that event or covering anything related to nuclear weapons or radioactive “incidents.” Look at the clampdown on real information regarding Fukushima and the contamination of wide swaths of the Pacific Ocean and elsewhere. Big Nuke has a powerful grip on the media.

As notes: "New Mexico is America's newest "Bikini Atoll" of nuclear research; cause you can't just let a good nuclear disaster go to waste. Just tell the natives its all safe; then offer them free "Health" research and track them over the years.

CEMRC spokesman addresses NM nuke-waste facility "radiation incident"

25 February, 2014

TULSA, Okla. -- Developments continue to arise in relation to the release of radioactive isotopes from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) located in Carlsbad, New Mexico, as first reported here at Red Dirt Report this past Sunday.

Our story, “Serious ‘radiation incident’ at NM waste facility has public concerned” generated intense social media interest Monday, as well as an independent report from News Channel 4 (KFOR) in Oklahoma City headlined “Could a leak at New Mexico’s nuclear waste site reach the Sooner State?

Despite concerns that there may have been airborne particles of Plutonium and Americium blown eastward into the Texas panhandle and into Oklahoma, local readings are so far not showing that to be the case.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency reports in its “RadNet” gross gamma count rate data readings between Feb. 3 and Feb. 21, 2014 – the time period where the Carlsbad event is reported to have taken place – are within “normal” gamma levels.

Red Dirt Report reader in Luther informed us that he has a Geiger counter on his property and that normal background radiation readings there are between 10 and 30 counts per minute and that when he last observed it on Monday afternoon it was reading between 20 and 30 counts per minute. The reader added that if it were closer to 100 counts per minute “I would start to worry.”

Meanwhile, Red Dirt Report has been investigating this incident further, contacting one of the most knowledgeable figures in this story – Russell Hardy, Director of New Mexico State University’s Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center. Hardy provided a lot of scientific information for our readers.

Hardy, we should note, is very familiar with Carlsbad’s WIPP facility, originally designed with the purpose of providing secure containment for waste related to the defense industry. And since the incident earlier this month, authorities are awaiting the results of a series of tests being performed on filters from the site.
The WIPP site, Hardy told Red Dirt Report, deals specifically with a type of waste dubbed “transuranic.” This term refers to elements which are described as heavier than uranium, essentially indicating a higher atomic number.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, TRU waste as it is also called, is derived from man-made elements, most commonly plutonium, and is generally associated with the production of nuclear weapons in relation to defense facilities.
Filters located at the WIPP facility recorded abnormal levels of radiation at the facility on Feb. 14, 2014.
The event happened on Friday night at around 11:30, and our folks weren’t allowed on site until Tuesday morning at about nine o’clock,” Hardy said.
The CEMRC is in charge of testing the filters, and Hardy himself already possesses a familiarity with the site. He spoke regarding theories that a salt-truck having caught fire Feb. 5 may have a link to the Feb. 14 incident.
I really don’t think there’s a connection, number one because of the time difference and number two and I’ve been underground many times and so I’m very aware of where the waste is stored as opposed to where this fire took place,” said Hardy.
There’s quite a bit of distance between where the salt-haulage truck caught fire and where the waste is actually stored. I personally don’t believe there is a connection,” said Hardy, addressing the possible relationship of the two incidents seen within a week of one another.
At the time of the incident alarms were triggered resulting in the evacuation of the plant, meanwhile those in the surrounding areas as well as more distant regions are waiting to hear findings of the CEMRC regarding the presence of Americium-241 as well as Plutonium-239 and 240 in filters charged with monitoring ambient air quality outside the plant and air quality within.
We have received two types of filters, our ambient air samplers which are out, above ground, in the air around the facility and we received two filters from the exhaust shaft itself, one is before the HEPA filter, and one is after,” said Hardy.
The filters that we received before will tell us the maximum activity and the ones after the HEPA filtration will tell us exactly what’s getting out into the environment,” said Hardy.
One of the radioactive isotopes detected, Americium-24, is a common component of industrial smoke detectors. It emits alpha particles as well as gamma rays and has a half-life of approximately 432.7 years.
According to the EPA Plutonium-239, yet another radioactive isotope found at the site, is used in the making of nuclear weapons, and has a half-life of 24,100 years.
An element’s half-life is determined by the time it takes half of the atoms of the radioactive isotope to decay. Plutonium-240 possesses a half-life of only 6,560 years.
Plutonium emits mostly alpha radiation, which is generally considered less harmful than beta or gamma radiation when not inhaled or ingested. Alpha particles are larger and generally do not travel very far from their source due to their size and energy. However, once ingested, it can cause radiation poisoning.
Beta radiation, slightly more energetic than its alpha counterpart, poses similar risk if inhaled or ingested, and requires moderate protective covering of the skin in order to not become absorbed by the body.
Gamma radiation, the most powerful of the three, can travel at the speed of light. This type of radiation can cause severe damage to internal organs in addition to radiation sickness. According to the EPA as long as gamma rays have energy they are capable of traveling a significant distance through empty space, and are capable of penetrating human tissue to a depth of several centimeters.
Speaking to the duration of time the public can expect to wait for findings, Hardy outlined the process used and the projected wait for information regarding the filters.
It takes three-to-five days to digest filters, separate out the various types of isotopes and count them in our alpha and gamma counters to see the level of activity,” said Hardy.
Several reports by the media have claimed that radiation has been found as far as a half of a mile away from the WIPP facility.
Our only reading so far is six-tenths of a mile from the site,” said Hardy, addressing the claims.
In regards to how the radioactive particles made it that far, Hardy spoke of one possibility: “Our hypothesis at this point is that in the underground they have 4,000 cubic feet of air per minute moving through the repository, so you know it’s quite a bit of air that goes through the mine. The way the system is designed is when there is a detection of radiation it automatically shifts the ventilation system within the mine to lower the air speed and to go through a set of HEPA filters.”

Elaborating, Hardy attributes the presence of the particles already found on an above ground filter to the seconds between the plant’s recognition of the problem and the HEPA filter’s automatic response.
So if you can imagine that shift in filtration may take, I don’t know, five, ten, twenty, thirty, seconds, or however long that takes, that there is a chance that once whatever was released got into the air,” said Hardy. ”There was a small moment in time where some radioactive particles could have gotten out of the mine before the system fully shifted to ventilation through the HEPA filters.”
HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate absorption. Filters bearing the name must meet strict air-quality standards set by the United States Department of Energy, one stipulation being that they must remove 99.7-percent of particles 0.3 micrometers or smaller from air passing through them.
Added Hardy: “So we think, and again we’re going to do more extensive testing, but we think that that puff of radioactive dust if you will, drifted across our ambient air sensor that is six-tenths of a mile from the facility, and that that’s how we got it on our filter.”
Hardy cannot say whether or not it is likely there will be any significant environmental damage, but cites the state and federal government’s possible coming involvement.
That would be up to the EPA and the Environmental State Department,” said Hardy.
And also there in Carlsbad, as we noted in our earlier report, the Carlsbad Current-Argus featured a report today regarding Monday night’s special town hall event, attended by 300 Carlsbad-area residents, who wanted to ask officials questions about the WIPP radiation leak.

As Current-Argus reporter Zack Ponce wrote, officials reassured the public “that the levels of radiation that escaped from WIPP’s underground into the outside air is safe.”

This coincided with a  new Department of Energy assessment of the accident – its cause still unknown – claiming that “there is no contamination threat for the local citizens in southeast New Mexico.”
Everything is looking good and safe,” said Nuclear Waste Partnership spokesman Farok Sharif. “There is no indication at all to say that we have any issues.”

Carlsbad residents assured 

on safety of WIPP radiation 


25 February, 2014

CARLSBAD -- Around 300 Carlsbad residents packed the Pecos River Village Conference Center Monday for the chance to ask officials at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant about last week's radiation leak.

Several members of the audience asked and received assurances that the levels of radiation that escaped from WIPP's underground into the outside air was safe.

"Our main goal and concern is to continue to protect our employees and the environment," Nuclear Waste Partnership Farok Sharif said. "Everything is looking good and safe. There is no indication at all to say that we have any issues."

Prior to the town hall, the Department of Energy released new data on Monday afternoon that bolstered the agency's claim that there is no contamination threat for local citizens in Southeast New Mexico.

Assessment of environmental samples collected in and around the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant show radioactive contamination in the air around the nation's only nuclear repository ranged from 1.3 to 4.4 disintegrations per minute. Samples were taken at numerous locations around the repository, according to a news release.

Radiation was detected above ground last week by a lab that monitors radiation levels at the site. Officials haven't said the cause of the leak, but they've said the radiation's signature is consistent with the type of waste being buried at WIPP.

WIPP is the nation's only disposal facility for transuranic waste, commonly referred to as "TRU" waste, which is radioactive material generated from the nation's nuclear weapons program during the Cold War era. The site, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, started accepting shipments from nuclear facilities around the country in 1999. The waste is disposed 2,150 feet below ground in the salt beds of the Permian Basin.

DPM measures the contamination by referring to how quickly radioactive material is decaying and releasing radioactive particles of energy.

Sharif and Department of Energy Carlsbad Field Office Manager Joe Franco appealed to the audience by letting them know they shared in the worries about the radiation leak.

"This is my town," said Sharif, who has worked at WIPP for more than 20 years and spent a majority of his time living in Carlsbad after moving to the United States from Malaysia.

Franco told the audience that he was born and raised in Carlsbad and that his take on the situation was that it is "very serious" and "unfortunate, but it is what it is."

The DOE found through dose assessment modeling, which calculates potential radioactivity exposure to people, that humans have a potential of less than one millirem of exposure to radiation from the Feb. 14 leak. A person receives about 10 millirems from a chest X-ray procedure.

No outside protestors appeared at the town hall meeting and the question and answer forum moderated by former State Senator and chairman of the Carlsbad Nuclear Task Force John Heaton ran smooth for the most part.

The only disturbance came in the form of Martin Mills, who is running in Carlsbad's mayoral election against incumbent Dale Janway.

Mills used his question to shout at Heaton and other WIPP officials and would not let them give a response.

At one point during Mills' rant, a guest shouted, "this is not a political campaign forum."

WIPP received and disposed of its last waste shipments underground the morning of Feb. 5, the day a vehicle used to haul salt caught on fire, forcing immediate evacuations of all personnel. Six workers were treated for smoke inhalation at Carlsbad Medical Center.

Most of WIPP's recently disposed waste has come from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory. The facility had been averaging 16 waste shipments per week according to the DOE.

WIPP had also received some waste from the Savannah River Site in South Carolina and Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois on a more limited basis.

1 comment:

  1. thank you very very much for this; i am adding it to my "WIPP: Links Crucial, Useful, And Hella Interesting" archive, and will be back with the link when the arduous formatting is complete.....

    this may include some annotations, as the page will be preserved as PDF....