Safety board notes second basement storage leak in report

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By Tris DeRoma

A restroom faucet was again found as a source for leaking water into an area where transuranic waste was stored, nuclear criticality inspectors said in a Nov. 30 Defense Nuclear Safety Board report.

The incident happened Nov. 26.

“Similar to the first event, the water flowed from the mezzanine to the first floor and then further on to the basement,” inspectors said in their report.

The first time the leak occurred was in March. In both incidents, lab officials said there was no danger through the risk of exposure to transuranic waste that’s stored in or near that particular basement, which is located in Tech Area 55.

“The laboratory has identified steps to prevent this from happening again, and plans on putting them into place in the coming weeks,” a lab spokesman said of the most recent incident. “At no time did the water represent any significant risk of a criticality or harm to the workers.”

At that time of the first incident,  NNSA officials studied whether fissile solutions stored on the first floor could start a reaction if they ever came in contact with waste being stored in the basement.

Lab spokesman Kevin Roark said at the time that the TA-55 is designed to isolate and contained water leaks.

As to the current incident, lab officials couldn’t elaborate on what specific steps were going to be taken.

Earlier this year, the lab garnered high marks for safety from the Department of Energy. This summer, the lab posted it’s lower ever injury and illness rate in the recent history of the lab. As a result, the DOE renewed the lab’s Voluntary Protection Program star status.