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  1. This morning (February 26), the 13 Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) employees that were on site the evening of February 14 were notified that they have tested positive for radiological contamination

    At the time of the event, these employees were performing above ground operations, and federal oversight duties at the WIPP facility.

    I dont understand this. Was it stuff that got past the filtration system either in the air or on a piece of equipment or could something have arrived/happened above ground and got sucked into the air system or also transferred underground?

    Could this be a completely different exposure? Or are these tests so sensitive and the readings so low as for this to be expected in any event? Numbers would be helpful.

    1. No thats mostly unlikely scratch that.

      Diagram ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:WIPPFacility.jpg )
      Coordinates for Google earth : 32°22′18″N 103°47′37″W

      On the 15th at 11 pm wind direction was West blowing to the WSW earlier and WNW the next day. The exhaust shaft is just east and close to the waste handling building. The air intake shaft is a bit further to the NW. A incident above ground or a contaminated piece of equipment would likely set off detectors and even diffuse a bit before getting sucked in, as the waste seems to be offloaded and dropped down from the waste support building. So more likely taking most of it into account the urine test is very sensitive and material not caught by the exhaust is what those workers were exposed to.

      The road where the detector was set off is to the W and SW of the facility I believe. God are those all gas/oil wells around it? Jheeez they have drilled/fracked that place crazy.

      Anyway that all seems consistent with the general narrative.

      1. BTW those are mostly gas wells – The Permian basin Barnett Shale Formation. Off the top of my head It doesn’t seem like such a good idea to be so fracking crazy everywhere next to a nuclear waste repository, but Im no expert and perhaps its not so much a issue.

        1. WIPP repository depth of 2150 feet.
          Oil/gas fracking 6000-10,000 ft.

          Salt at very high pressures, half a mile underground, behaves different than salt at the surface,” says WIPP chief scientist Roger Nelson. “Salt moves like a viscous plastic or like cold molasses. ( http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126229739 ) – 2010

          So the waste itself is probably the safest thing in the area from fracking disposal induced earthquakes and what have you. They shouldn’t have drilled so much around there while people were still working underground. That was irresponsible there and would be in any mining situation IMHO. That repository was planned for as far back as 1957 too.

          1. John, those are just pumpers. The actually drilling was straight down and done decades ago. I have not seen any documented horizontal drilling with fracing around WIPP.

          2. Perhaps martin. In a article I read it seemed they were still engaging in the practice and im assuming disposal sites were nearby:

            Hurt by drought, NM farmers are selling off water intended for irrigation to oil & gas companies — for fracking

            “The less commercial water sales that we have here along the Pecos River, the better it is for agriculture,” said Charlie Jurva, president of the Carlsbad Irrigation District. “I can understand those business decisions because it’s hard to turn down the money, but in the long run I’m afraid that it will permanently hurt the agriculture community.”

            Perhaps it is far enough away not to be a issue.

      2. Any chance that someone could have thrown bits of a destroyed smoke detector directly down the air intake shaft and let the air ventilation system do the rest? Anyone know how good the security around the intake shaft is? Could it be an Ecoterroist?

        1. lol – god I hope someone wouldn’t do that. I think down in the repository they detected plutonium too. Something probably got crushed or whatever.

          This stuff spread and stored all over the country would have been more of a safety issue with worse problems and far worse accidents . I hope they get this place back up and running soon.

          1. I agree but it must be safe. Any nuclear clear up needs to be very thorough. I live in Roswell, NM and I have a simple GMC-300E Plus Geiger Counter and everything in Roswell (60 miles northwest) has been normal background radiation counts.

  2. Curious about the 13 workers popped positive for Pu in the lungs.

    Also curious on how the measure 46 Bq on the sample 3000 feet away (and not downwind) became reported as .64 Bq Am and .04 Bq Pu after subtracting “background”

    Wow the background must be around 180mSv per year, something is amiss in those numbers reported.

    1. .04 Bq Pu…. isn’t that one decay every 25 seconds? Can they really measure that, and identify that it’s Plutonium with any certainty at all?

    2. I recommend listening to the video of the town hall meeting, where that question was answered. Basically, nearly all of that 46 Bq was natural background. Only the .64 Bq was from the plant release. Which just goes to show you how trivial this whole thing really is.

      1. Which just goes to show you how trivial this whole thing really is.

        @Keith Pickering

        Facility was evacuated at the time of the release (due to a underground truck fire over a week earlier). Seeing we still don’t have a cause, and we’re weeks away from access to the site, I think “trivial” is a bit premature at this point in time.

        Original plans called for a four shaft design to WIPP … “Subsequently, as part of a cost reduction program (US Department of Energy 1982), the number of shafts was reduced to to three … This change as profound effects on repository construction and operation and on costs. The four-shaft system allowed for complete separation between construction and storage. Each of these two operations was planned to proceed independently of the other and concurrently, except for ventilation supply through a common shaft … although the three-shaft system appears to be functionally adequate, it does not include the degree of redundancy that is common in nuclear industry practice” (here).

        Nothing to worry about … I am sure. An incident in a storage facility, near a panel under construction, could never have been avoided. Good planning, or just dumb luck that nobody was in the facility at the time. Too many unknowns at the moment to know anything for sure.

        1. On the digram and in Google earth it looks like there are still four shafts. Are they using the waste elevator one as a air intake? In the truck stories they seemed to indicate it was a separate access area. They could have changed back to the four.

          The four shafts at WIPP are each approximately 6.1 m (20 ft) in diameter and approximately 660 m (2,160) ft) deep. The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant: A Potential Solution for the Disposal of Transuranic Waste ( 1996 ) ( http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=5269&page=52 )

          1. The four shafts at WIPP …

            @John Tucker

            It was originally built with three shafts (as the document describes). The “air intake and service shaft” was dropped from the final design.

            HERE and HERE.

            Later testing determined that a fourth shaft was needed.

            … in light of new information and actual site-specific experience at WIPP leading to a clearer definition of the scope-related programs and activities, it was realized that the existing ventilation system may need to be modified. A re-assessment of the ventilation requirements–based on the current status of the facility and a clearer definition of the scope of the experimental programs, waste storage methodology, mine developmental activities. and current equipment list–indicates a two- fold increase in underground airflows from 210,000 cubic feet per minute (cfm) to 425,000 cfm. Various options to provide the increased airflow to the underground facility were considered and analyzed. Based on the techno-economic analysis, safety and environ- mental considerations, and other conditions unique to a facility like WIPP, it was decided to construct a new shaft to serve as the primary fresh air intake, along with the installation of additional fans in parallel with the existing set up. Low cost and the ease with which the new design could be implemented and integrated into the existing ventilation system with minimum impact on current activities and projected schedules were the guiding factors in designing the shaft and related ventilation modifications.

            So yes. The facility currently has four shafts (but this was a retrofit). It appears to have lost a service shaft in the process. It is unclear whether an additional air shaft was added to update storage and construction methodologies (and minimize “profound” impacts from the three shaft design), or to support “various activities as then envisioned” at the plant (based on operational experience). It sounds to me to be the latter. But your guess is a good as mine. And any further information would be entirely welcome.

            The specific panels are intended to collapse when they are finished. If we have an early collapse here in an unfinished room, the question is whether adequate precautions were taken, design redundancies or otherwise, especially with a facility that was evacuated and was not being closely monitored.

          2. Yes, I think wish there was more spacing in the ventilation system and perhaps more options when it came to where to vent with respect to wind speed and direction.

            EL despite the universal (it seems) wish for more information, I really like this outfit and appreciate what they are doing. I would have no issues working for them. I also feel more concern for these workers than I do for any in nearby communities. And, so far, that “concern” revolves more around worry about their worry, than their exposure.

            Yea after watching more of the vid some of the questions/comments were good. but still no, I am disappointed with the technical level of expertise the civilians in that community. And basically this isnt about them. The environment there is a fracking nightmare too.

            So you can continue to “pity me” I guess.

            All in all I think we realize now cataloging, staging, sorting, efficient processing, recycling and long term storing of waste is a absolute necessity.

            Thats the take away from this. No matter if this incident was minor as it appears or is, god forbid, worse. This stuff needs to be dealt with as opposed to being left in basements or temporary regional facilities.

            If you, or anyone has a reasonable counter argument id like to hear it. Please.

            It appears organizations like UCS have greatly disregarded reality in their myopic fixation on NPP “waste” repositories.

            This incident brings that issue to the forefront of discussion. So I want and expect a answer.

          3. This incident brings that issue to the forefront of discussion. So I want and expect a answer.

            @John Tucker

            You don’t get to better and safer facilities by turning a blind eye to accidents and oversights. You get there by being more accountable and transparent in your response and actions. They will likely thoroughly investigate these accidents (I have no doubt), and if there is a problem … fix them.

            I’m not sure why this is so strange and unusual to you? Please answer this question (if you could). I really don’t get it. We need more of these facilities (and not less), and for different kinds of waste. And we need them to be safe and have the confidence of the public (those working at these sites and those living in nearby communities). If we’re going to expand our commitments to nuclear, we need to fully understand the challenges, risks, and costs of dealing with long lived waste. A fuel cycle that remains open isn’t a very good option. And neither is being so committed to nuclear that you turn a blind eye to every challenge and risk. Professional and competent people (taking these matters seriously) are located somewhere in the middle. They don’t demean members of the public who have real questions about risk, they don’t send workers unnecessarily into unsafe environments, and they don’t ignore options (even if they are expensive) that can lower risks and prevent accidents.

            None of this is strange or unusual. I’m not sure why you are treating it as such?

          4. This is not nuclear power. Also as congress recently funded USEC (which of course groups like UCS could care less about) for the manufacture of weapons material more of this type of waste will be produced.

            So you are saying as is all waste is monitored and incidents are reported and this one was in the additional category; more a result of attempting to store this material?

            So spread out all over the place in aging containment is better and safer until we magically perfect the process with no practice.

            Thats not a reasonable assumption.

          5. So spread out all over the place in aging containment is better and safer until we magically perfect the process with no practice.

            @John Tucker

            Huh? I’m not sure where you are getting this … it’s certainly not from anything I have said.

  3. A Notable Comparative Health Aside:

    Yesterday a tractor-trailer stopped for the light up the corner here where people were waiting at a bus stop and the black fumes it was belching made everyone cough and wheeze for over a minute or so before it pulled off, and I said to myself, how much of those fumes and grit and whatnot are going to lodge in those folks lungs forever and how much damage is it going to incur to these people — including kids standing there — over the years? I didn’t see the EPA or Green groups running up to console these folks or take deep exams of their condition or the ambulance chasers falling off the truck with Geiger counters to sign up for suits. These folks have to silently suck up that their health even if almost insignificantly — which I severely doubt — has been reduced somewhat, and this is going to happen with thousands of others folks that truck passes by, and then there’s how many thousands of this truck’s friends daily blenching black fumes all over NYC metro doing the same, totally unaccountable for health impact. So then I read here that there are groups with their panties in a tizzy because a few nuclear workers MIGHT have a particle of Pu or what in their lungs and Oh-My-God we have to shut down the whole nuclear industry because of a couple of poor innocent people might get nuclear sick! The total mismatch and disconnect of the sense of proportion and alarm of the health impacts of anything nuclear with substances mundane yet very widely harmful is just off-the-wall. The green-tinted media is doing a criminal injustice casting an almost mystical malevolence to the tiniest nuclear thing while millions wheeze and cough outside their glass ivory towers here.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

    1. There is no accounting. There is no reasonable “Bottom line” assessment.

    2. Love your commentary. Here’s mine:

      Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway said it best, the WIPP accident could have
      long-term effects. The recent fire and minor radiation leak were not serious incidents and will be cleaned up and upgrades will be made to insure continued safety at the facility. However, a trust with the public has been breached and WIPP will find it almost impossible to get any kind of approval for expansion. I am already seeing a similar reaction like what happened after Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania (1979), Chernobyl in the Ukraine (1986) and most recently, Fukushima Daiichi in Japan (2011). Everyone gets cold feet and over reacts to the situation and wants to stop using nuclear power because of the risk. Yes, there is a risk with nuclear power but there is also a greater long term risk if we keep ‘burning’ fossil fuels. I am not against fossil fuels, but we do have to clean up after ourselves to maintain a balance with Mother Nature.

      In a few weeks, maybe months, we will probably know what happened at WIPP that caused both the fire and the radiation leak. It takes time for analyze the situation for accurate data and that is what the public wants: truthful information. There will always be those distracters out there that will push misleading notions that everything is doom and gloom when it comes to anything nuclear. That is what happened after TMI and yet no one died from that accident. However, the inaccurate information that was communicated by the anti-nuclear movement and distributed by the main stream media caused a 30 year moratorium in the US on licensing more nuclear power plants. Trust was lost and the public and politicians had to be reassured that TMI would not happen again. Every nuclear power plant in the US went through safety upgrades based on “beyond basic design” and “defense in depth” paradigms to address technological failure, operator error, and/or natural calamity. These upgrades work and have prevented another TMI in the US and were also adopted by the European Nuclear Industry as well, even though they were very expensive for the utility companies to implement. So what happened at Chernobyl and Fukushima? The short version explanation is that neither country implemented the US safety upgrades.

      Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster occurred in 1986 and has been well documented as to what happened and why. The primary reason was operator error with a nuclear power plant that had a poor containment design. There was NO containment building for the reactor. I am not going to recap that event because you can find all the information you might want online. However, Fukushima has not been completely and thoroughly documented in the public domain yet, even after 3 years. There have been many assertions but a truthful assessment is still pending. The Fukushima reactors did have containment buildings and did have good safety procedures in place. In fact, all the operational reactors at Fukushima did automatically shut down (SRAM) while the earthquake was still active (before the tsunami) and the backup generators did kick in to provide electricity to keep the reactors cooled. Everything was working as designed so what happened?

      The best answer to that should come from the actual plant operator’s personal actions and conversations as they happened during the first several days after the earthquake. The plant operators documented minute by minute actions taken to maintain a stable environment at all the reactors. This record has been disclosed in very detailed descriptions and the revelation for me was how wrong the information that was dispersed by TEPCO Corporate, the Japanese Government and the international media from day one. To this day, there is still very little trust in TEPCO and Japan’s NRA (nuclear regulatory agency) even though they released all the information about what really happened. Unfortunately the narrative has been set and it will take a long time to correct all the misinformation from day one of this accident. What really saddens me was that the records show that the disaster was technically avoidable. That is as far as I will go with my assertion because anything beyond this would amount to non-scientific speculation.

      So, I’ll just wait to see how the DOE communicates the WIPP incident. Here is the web site with the latest DOE/WIPP news releases: http://www.wipp.energy.gov/

  4. One thing to keep in perspective is that DOE (and their DOD ancestors, ET all) are not a friend or ally of commercial nuclear power. They are directly responsible for the birth of radio-phobia in the ‘50s and ‘60s by their bomb testing, and all aspects of their miss handling of all activities to support nuke weapons. Almost every site associated with their past activities is now an ecological radiation hazard disaster area. And we end up guilty by association because of the word nuclear. They may in theory have regulations; but they were never regulated. They are also directly responsible for the fact we can’t close the back end of our fuel cycle. Make no mistake about it, these guys are not our allies, and they should never be allowed to touch anything nuclear. Name one significant project they have ever handled correctly in the past few decades that has directly helped commercial nuclear power? The blow back from this recent event will be directed directly at commercial nuclear power, no matter how small or unrelated the consequences of this particular event may be.

    1. All of that, and the stimulus of a recent favorable mention in the NYT, possibly leading to proposals to bring civilian power plant SNF to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, are what make me think someone has torched a smoke detector.

      Well, that, and the reported isotopes.

      1. Seeing the higher level of Am and the minuscule level of Pu [0.64 Becquerels (Bq) of 241Am and 0.046 Bq of 239+240Pu], I wondered the same thing.

        It would be useful to know how that level of Pu compares to the residual amount in that area that is the known result of atmospheric weapons testing prior to that being banned. I would expect that most samples of Trans-Uranic Waste would have quite a bit more Pu than Am, but the specific activity of Am is probably significantly higher. So, as a mere Mechanical Engineer, I guess I will stop with my speculation.

    2. “Name one significant project they have ever handled correctly in the past few decades that has directly helped commercial nuclear power?”

      The Manhattan Project helped to end WWII. There may not be commercial nukes without it. The world is intertwined.

      1. End of WW2 is debateable, however “I am become death, Killer of Worlds” is not debateable, Oppenheimer really said that.

          1. So was Alvin Weinberg with all his promotion of fluid reactors over the LWR for commercial use. Safety and waste were part of his concerns.

  5. I am sure there will be numerous FUD-generating media reports about how plutonium is “the most toxic substance known to man”, or something similar. You might want to read an article that appeared in Nuclear Engineering International on the subject of plutonium. Link here:
    http://www.neimagazine.com/opinion/opinionthe-drama-of-plutonium/

    The article describes a group of 26 people who were accidentally contaminated with plutonium during the Manhattan Project. In the 1970s, the medical histories of these people were examined to see if there were any diseases created by the exposure. Of the 26 individuals, two had died; one from a heart attack, and another in a road accident.
    From the article:
    “The surviving 24 had suffered no cancers other than two skin cancers “that have no history or basis that relate them to plutonium exposure”, they reported. They found the diseases and physical changes in club members were “characteristic of a male population in their 50s and 60s”. The mortality rate of the club was about 50% of the expected deaths among white American males at that time.”

    Accidental ingestion of plutonium, although definitely not recommended, is far from being a death sentence. The article then goes on to say over 1200 persons world-wide have been contaminated by plutonium, with “no detectable effects so far”. Eric Voice, a plutonium researcher, said “the radium in the world around us is twenty times more dangerous than the same mass of plutonium. “And there is no evidence that any human on Earth has ever died or suffered any health consequences whatever from plutonium radioactivity”.

      1. Good link. This part kind of shocked me.

        “Though they put a stop to lip-pointing, the radium companies initially tried to deny any connection between radium and illness. Legal battles dragged on. Some women received settlements, but others never did.”

        The evidence of this was so damning, how could they even try to deny it? How could a responsible lawyer even try to defend it as harmless? People know that human nature doesn’t change. People know that history repeats itself. Some FUD is understandable.

      2. At around 150 Micrograms, it killed 255 or 255 Beagles.

        “But you can’t prove it was all lung cancer”

        thats true….sometimes the liver cancer got them first.

      1. Re: John Tucker
        What gets to me is this incredible one-track rancor some have casting anything nuclear as being almost mystically malevolent in power and effect. They cry out when one or a dozen nuclear workers are irradiated but would shrug knowing how many chemical workers croak even working at chlorine bleach plants every year alone. Record, Fact and Perspective are the mortally wounded gagged victims in anti-nuclear arguments. No one is letting TEPCO off the hook, but whack them because they were tardy at — not ignoring — souping up for a rare unpredictable super event? What happens when an equally rare asteroid slams home near a nuke tomorrow; are we going demand all nukes take immediate $$$ precautions then? Fukushima’s basic overbuilt engineering — even if dated — proved its worth; it saved lives and the environment in worst case scenarios even in inadequate preparation circumstance; a prime desire of any engineer. To many it seems the nuclear engineer is guilty of the sin of being less than absolutely perfect. If only all other industries were as a little less than perfect! I often mention to nuke blogs a partly family issue with me relating Louisiana oil workers, and that is there thousands of widows of former oil/gas workers around the world who dearly wish that, if their loved ones had to work during a worst case accident, that that place be a Fukushima and not a refinery or rig or pumping or pumping station. That so many anti-nukers seem totally livid that Fukushima cheated their anticipation of a Doomsday three times over is the stuff of sickness beyond nuclear guilt and nightmare driven callousness.

        James Greenidge
        Queens NY

        1. “No one is letting TEPCO off the hook, but whack them because they were tardy at — not ignoring — souping up for a rare unpredictable super event?”

          Rare, yes, unpredictable, NO. Precedented in history, actually. And where is the evidence, substantiation, for the claim of “tardiness”. Are you too citing engineering and plans that were being performed to improve the seawalls and generator protection? If so, lets see it.

          “What happens when an equally rare asteroid…..”

          When was the last time an asteroid displaced tens of thousands of people, destroyed a fisheries industry, and caused the shutdown of damned near an entire power grid? To claim that a major tsunami or seismic event, (particularly in Japan), is on the rarity level of a severe asteroid hit, is ludicrous to the extreme.

        2. They cry out when one or a dozen nuclear workers are irradiated but would shrug knowing how many chemical workers croak even working at chlorine bleach plants every year alone.

          @James Greenidge

          Who is shrugging of anything (particularly when health impacts are concern). You’ve made a straw man of your “some”, and thrown in some false equivalence for added measure.

          Fukushima’s basic overbuilt engineering — even if dated — proved its worth; it saved lives and the environment in worst case scenarios even in inadequate preparation circumstance; a prime desire of any engineer.

          Are we even looking at the same accident? Most of the radiation was blown out to sea. The reactors aren’t coming off the beach for some 100 years. Public costs are on the order of a national banking crisis (in a country already facing a debt crisis). Balance of trade, competitiveness of local industries, agricultural screenings, high cost of replacement power, public confidence, have all been adversely impacted. 180,000 people have been displaced because their environment (despite minimal exposures and radiation being blown out to sea) have been polluted. There has been a global slowdown of new starts, and untold billions spent globally to shore up the industry. Japan has said it intends to cut nuclear reliance as much as possible.

          One track rancor … hardly. These are real things. If you don’t wish to account for them, that doesn’t mean others are entirely to blame.

          1. You Pissed EL guys don’t get it. Wasn’t the reactors that made Japan move people and go broke. It was bad government reaction that did. Same stupid thing Germany’s done for no good reason. If you’re so mad about people being hurt why don’t you go after indyustries that’s actually been killing off people? Why waste your breath here?

          2. “You Pissed EL guys don’t get it. Wasn’t the reactors that made Japan move people and go broke. It was bad government reaction that did”

            Actually, its YOU that “don’t get it”. It doesn’t matter to the 180,000 displaced Japanese who is at fault, They are displaced. Thier lives are irrepairably damaged.

            What, the industry, TEPCO, the government, don’t share responsibility?

            Aren’t massive evacuations to be expected during such an event? Is it just radiation releases that propels prudent safeguards? Aren’t the social ramifications of a critical failure to be safeguarded against as well? I mean, what? An event like this occurs, and the alleged over-reaction is unexpected, unforeseeable? Of course the people were evacuated. There were three reactors in meltdown. Any government would have done the same thing.

            And what if such an event happens at Diablo? Are you really so daft that you think our government is not going to react in the same manner? So, getting away from the argument about risks associated with exposure, doesn’t the industry have a responsibility to safeguard a plant from all known threats and risks if only to protect the surrounding communities from the mandatory mass public displacement that we KNOW will occur in the event of a serious incident?? It is the event itself that causes the displacement, because the insuing alleged governmental over-reaction to the event is a KNOWN factor and should be a plant design, and placement, consideration.

            This assertion that this is a non-event because “no one was killed” and “its all the government’s fault” is callous and disingenuous. And, to be blunt, is a really shallow argument.

            And, as I said in reponse to another one of your spittle laced outbursts, I do “go after” the fossil fuel guys. But hey, this is a site about nuclear energy. You might wanna try to absorb that little intellectual tidbit.

          3. I don’t see this kind of concern for evacuees from Centralia coal fires or Love Canal or hundreds of thousands often cleared out after train tanker accidents. Nuclear seems a special evil to you to wipe out. Apparent something personal happened caused by something nuclear makes you carry a pitchfork like this. HIROSHIMA SYNDROME blog eats all your arguments alive in whole lists but you still wouldn’t accept fact and reason. Grudge and terror is too blinding deep. Carrying a fear monkey on your back is no way to live. I wouldn’t care myself except that attitude is stalling millions others from having good clean power. That’s not concern. That’s selfish.

          4. “Nuclear seems a special evil to you to wipe out. Apparent something personal happened caused by something nuclear makes you carry a pitchfork like this”

            You’re making an idiot of yourself. I won’t be responding to anymore of your ignorant drivel.

        3. James, people are livid because manmade low level ionizing radiation has been shown by repeated study after study after to study to be FAR more dangerous than the ICRP, DOE, EPA, NRC, etc., are willing to ever acknowledge. Internalized radionuclides are carcinogenic and mutagenic in trace quantities. Worse if you breathe in. Notice the pronuke double-speak: when people speak of “ingestion” of plutonium rather than “inhalation,” you immediately know they are trying to minimize the life-time dangers of these nano particles.

          1. For an immense body of references, please see http://www.euradom.com and download the free copy of the 2010 Report of the European Committee on Radiation Risk. It is a must-read for everyone in the nuclear industry concerned about the differences between dose-risk for external and internal emitters.

          2. Sorry, the correct hyperlink is: http://www.euradcom.org

            EURADCOM.ORG will take you to the 2010 Report of the European Committee on Radiation Risk. True nuclear professionals will have an open-enough mind to actually read this, which is full of scientific references from people no longer working in your industry.

            1. @cEuler

              Despite its official sounding name, the European Committee on Radiation Risk appears to be an ad hoc group of well-known antinuclear activists whose work has been frequently questioned and debunked by peers and outside observers.

              One infamous name associated with the group is Chris Busby, the subject of a piece by George Monbiot titled Post-Fukushima ‘anti-radiation’ pills condemned by scientists. There are numerous additional stories that question his information, sources, and qualifications.

          3. The European Committee on Radiation Risk is a spontaneous creation of Civil Society which was faced with clear and alarming evidence of the failure of its democratic institutions to protect it from the effects of radioactive pollution. Predictably, the engine which generated this development was the Green movement, the result of another and earlier Civil Society reassessment of the aims and ideologies behind the systematic exploitation and contamination of the planet.

            Yes as in energy production radiation is comparatively significant pollutant issue that threatens whole species? And besides the European greens have taught us we must destroy the environment first in order to protect it.

        4. We are probably on far opposite ends of the political spectrum, but I agree 100 percent James. There needs to be a third party now more than ever. A reasonable one.

  6. The untold story here is the ongoing (and perhaps now ruined?) experiments being conducted in the north part of WIPP, far away from the waste storage areas. Among those experiments are ones directly aimed at determining the long-term effects of low-dose radiation on cellular growth and death rates. As it stands now, researchers have been unable to access their experimental laboratories for two weeks, with many more weeks likely before they can.

    If this incident has lost those experiments, it could be the biggest tragedy of this who thing by far.

  7. It seems the internal exposures to the staff are incredibly low and will never hurt any of them. Just another example of the radiophobia spawned by LNT…pure and simple.

    1. So they are picking up some of the low percentage Am gamma, and how do you think ANYONE has any idea was the lung absorbed does of plutonium is?

      Please provide your evidence. use a link. Facts talk. Use of the word radiophobia casts you in the same category as an anti nuker speweing “every single pro nuke person is evil”

      1. Use of the word radiophobia casts you in the same category as an anti nuker speweing “every single pro nuke person is evil”.

        If that’s the case, you’d better hope Leslie Corrice doesn’t read your web page. (Any one of the site’s pages, actually.)

        NukePro

      2. “atomicinsights.com (Run by Rod Adams, a well known pro nuke promoter).”

        Much of the content at your site is just copy pasted from here. No one at your site uses real names, yet you have no problem copying peoples real names and comments out of context from here. Especially to disparage them in absence – why is that?

        “WIPP Plutonium Aerosolization is More Dangerous than Fukushima”

        LOLOLOL. So over the top ignorant. No wonder you dont use your real name. Its almost like you really are not a nuke professional!

  8. “CASE REPORTS/ /HEMATOPOIETIC SYSTEM/ /Eight yrs after a 64-year old man was exposed to americium-241 in a chemical explosion/, leukopenia was evaluated by a hematologist. Diagnosis of a possible hypoproliferative, myeloproliferative, or myelodysplastic syndrome was considered. /USTUR Case 246/ /Americium-241/
    [Gusev, I.A., Guskova, A.K., Mettler, F.A. (eds) Medical Management of Radiation Accidents. Second Edition. CRC Press. Boca Raton, FL. 2001, p. 337] **PEER REVIEWED**”

    1. A think we can establish a huge dose of radiation is not so good. Its also not necessarily a guaranteed cancer/death sentence by any stretch. Low doses are another thing entirely. There is not even a scientifically established linear relationship between the two.

      But even if you did faithfully “believe” in LNT to be the absolute truth the risks would be minuscule compared to risks and real immediate danger you face in everyday life in scientific lab work and weapons production, especially also, for instance, in energy production (this again was weapons/lab waste). Even obsessing on it probably exposes you to much greater health risks.

      That is what I am hoping they have the good sense to make clear to these workers. Especially as in all likelihood, from the info we have so far, their “exposure” is looking to be ridiculously low.

  9. With operations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant on hold, so are all shipments, including the last of nearly 4,000 barrels of toxic waste that Los Alamos National Laboratory has been ordered to remove from its campus by the end of June. Other waste from labs in Idaho, Illinois and South Carolina is also without a home while operations are halted.

    Edwin Lyman, a nuclear expert at the watchdog group Union of Concerned Scientists, said the accident could curb enthusiasm on Capitol Hill for the underground site…. … “The narrative is that facility is super-safe. Now that they’ve had a serious incident, that’s no longer valid.” ( http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/nuclear-dump-leak-raises-questions-cleanup-22712707 )

    Harry Reid, the Union of Concern Trolls and the regular suspects have left us in a mess. All their political posturing and fear fund-raising have left us with no alternatives to store this material that has been irresponsibly sitting all over the place.

    They failed to consider all the storage implications in their rabid anti-nuclear power political courtships. Sure wish Yucca was open.

    Also, unlike spent fuel from reactors too the majority of this stuff is non standardized and very difficult if not impossible to recycle.

    It is insane not to have it in a repository.

    I wonder would Edwin Lyman consider something like below a “serious incident” or is it just mass media reports so far of trace readings with no health concerns that constitute that?

    Air Force Faces Fine Over Radioactive Spill ( http://www.nytimes.com/1988/06/24/us/air-force-faces-fine-over-radioactive-spill.html )

  10. I would be more aggressive with this story. It perfectly frames the bad reporting, perspective and other issues swirling around N weapons issues, energy, waste radiation fear.

    Id go for the jugular too. This is ridiculous. UCS board members shoudl NEVER be in prominent positions in our government. That is a very irresponsible organization.

    Also just that after all the media reporting on this, with all the fear and speculation I have yet to see ONE report that mentions there are ALARMS all over Carlsbad to wake people up to hopefully have time to run away as half the friggen town falls into a huge fracking water removal created sinkhole is beyond bizarre.

    You couldn’t make all this up.

  11. This radiation monitoring is a tough thing to explain to people. There are so many measuring units that one does not see in normal life unless one works with it every day. It looks like a lot of the people who comment on these posted topics are those that work with these units..

    Here’s a sort of simple example why it may be hard to explain radiation measurements to people & to those who report the news. I often go into gas stations while traveling and ask how far it is to the next town. Almost invariably, the response I get will be in minutes. When I seek to clarify and obtain distance (miles), I get puzzled responses. I usually smile and ask how fast the respondent drives to get an assessment of distance. The actual measured dose quantity will mean little to most unless there is further explanation to put it into perspective. (including me)

    1. ” Almost invariably, the response I get will be in minutes.”

      – Unless there is a anti-nuke on duty. Then its the wrong answer is given – in microliters!

  12. 0.64 highest reading? Over a million times previous levels recorded at WIPP!

    1. @zak red ridge

      Thank you for stopping by Atomic Insights.

      Filters run for the same length of time and sampling standard atmospheric air in the area normally collect about 40 Bq of radioactive material. Specialized analysis performed in this case was able to separate slightly less than 1 Bq of material that can be traced to the waste that is stored inside of WIPP.

      In terms of human health risk, one Bq of alpha emitting material is pretty much like any other, whether it is natural or “man-made.” Of course the level of waste related material is many times higher than previously measured because, until now, there has never been any leak of that material.

      There was a measurable leak, most likely from a container that was damaged by an event inside the deep underground mine. The engineered safety systems — designed for just such an event — worked.

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