Watchdogs weigh in on WIPP mess

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Watchdog groups put in their two cents with last week’s news that it could be three years to fully reopen the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad.

On May 2, the Department of Energy announced that some nuclear waste shipments from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to Waste Control Specialists (WCS) were suspended for an undetermined amount of time. 

The reason for the stoppage was that one or more LANL waste containers may have exploded underground and caused the Feb. 14 radiation release at WIPP.

A press release from the Concerned Citizens for Buclear Safety states that neither DOE nor LANL publicly identified the specific group of containers, called a waste stream, that are included in the shipment suspension.  Nor have they publicly stated how many of the suspect containers are at WIPP and WCS and how many remain at LANL.

“ The suspended waste stream is LA-MIN02-V.001, which is the source of 54 of the 268 contact-handled waste containers in room 7, panel 7, at WIPP, where the radiation release may have originated.  Another 116 containers from that waste stream are now at WCS.  The waste stream was created by plutonium operations at LANL that are continuing at Technical Area 55,” the release said.

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