Investigators have discovered that several heavy bags used to prevent radiation leaks at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant were damaged, the Department of Energy said Thursday.
The magnesium oxide bags, weighing up to 4,200 pounds each, are used to cover the containers of nuclear waste stored underground at the WIPP repository. The damaged bags were found in the storage area where the radiation leak is believed to have occurred.
Photos and videos shot by an investigative crew showed damage to several of the bags, which are put in place to “prevent the radioactive material from releasing into the environment over a 10,000‐year period,” according to a statement.
On Feb. 14, radiation leaked from the underground repository into the environment, but did not reach levels considered unsafe for the public. The cause of the leak, and what damaged the bags, is not yet known.