WIPP abruptly closed off two rooms that contained at risk barrels of nuclear waste. One being the site of the 2014 barrel explosion, the other being a nearby room that contained another at risk barrel from the same batch at Los Alamos. The room closures had been scheduled further out but were suddenly announced in recent weeks that they had piled up salt and installed steel panels. There was a recent increase in radiation in the underground, WIPP insisted that was caused by stirring up contaminated dust in the mine. With the at risk barrels now sealed in the rooms there is no further opportunity to investigate what went wrong. This leaves the root cause of the explosion somewhat unresolved.
Local watchdog groups expressed concern over the type of room sealing used. The current steel and salt closure does not include an explosion isolation wall as is normally used at the facility. Now the EPA is concerned enough that they are holding a public meeting mid June.
Also announced at last week’s WIPP town hall was that they are now installing a safe room in the underground. When asked previously if there was any intention to install a safe room similar to what is used in coal mining, WIPP representatives gave a solid “no”. They have now done an about face and announced they will be installing one but didn’t say why they changed their minds.
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