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Bulging drum did not contain radiological waste

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A drum with a bulging lid hazardous material remediation crews responded to at the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Sigma complex Monday contained no radioactive materials, said a lab spokesman Thursday.

“The material in a plastic waste drum was a combination of water, mineral oil and metal powder. The bulge in the plastic lid was likely caused by a small amount of water reacting with the metal powder,” a spokesman for the lab said. “The metal powders were composed of typical alloys such as stainless steel, titanium alloys, and aluminum alloys.”

A waste management coordinator was performing a routine inspection when the inspector saw the bulging lid.

The lab spokesman said there was very low risk of an explosion and the barrel was disposed of.

“A small cut was made in the plastic using a robot. The pressure was relieved through the slit. The barrel has since been packed into a 55 gallon metal drum with a pressure relief device for disposal,” the lab spokesman said.

On April 16 at 2:30 p.m., a partial evacuation took place at the Los Alamos National Laboratory when the bulge in the drum was discovered. No workers were harmed during the incident, and the area where the drum was stored was rendered safe a few hours after the incident.

The Sigma building develops materials and components using engineering and metallurgical science in support of national security, according to the LANL website. This science includes a scope that spans alloys, ceramics and compounds from uranium to hydrogen, the website said.