Wednesday, August 06, 2008
WIPP Drum's Puncture Fixed
CARLSBAD — The federal government's underground nuclear waste repository near Carlsbad temporarily halted shipments after officials noticed a gash in a radioactive waste drum.
No radioactive leak was detected, and the chief scientist for the Department of Energy's Carlsbad Field Office, Roger Nelson, said shipments could resume as early as today.
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is on a "safety pause," and officials are talking to workers about attention to detail in conducting operations, he said.
The gash, discovered Sunday, occurred during operations to put waste drums into WIPP, Nelson said.
Drums from Los Alamos National Laboratory were being placed on top of a container of other drums when a technician noticed a small puncture in one drum. The puncture was in line with something sticking out from nearby metal shelves, Nelson said.
He described the 1 1/2-inch puncture as a break in the drum's skin and said officials do not believe the liner of the drum was breached.
Technicians went underground Monday to tape over the drum to seal it and make sure there would be no possibility of any release of particulates, Nelson said.
Copyright ©2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.