An 8 by 8 foot section of ceiling in the panel 3 access drift has collapsed at WIPP. The area of the collapse is also in the contaminated areas of the mine. Officials announced it today but the collapse happened January 15th. A larger problem was admitted earlier this month. WIPP contractors had been saying that doing ceiling bolting activities were their priority, even above dealing with the at risk storage rooms and unstable barrels in room 6 and 7. Seven ceiling areas were found to be unsafe and are now labeled as restricted.
The effort to try to resume ceiling bolting activities was also stymied earlier this month when an oversight inspection found errors in the estimates for running the needed machinery with the air handling system in filtration mode. Filtration mode is required to keep the contamination from the exploded barrel from being released to the environment but the poorly designed air handling system can not create enough air flow in filtration mode to safely operate the needed equipment and deal with the toxic particulates created by the diesel powered equipment. This is obviously a safety risk and puts workers at risk.
Now we see why the contractor had changed priorities and had made ceiling bolting their priority. Roof bolting obviously needs to be done but the replacement ventilation system is much further down the line. Right now no solution to this problem is being proposed to the public.
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