From a pronuker site....they are proud of storing high level waste at WIPP
February 20, 2014 at 11:26 PM
Great job, Rod. One thing to mention about WIPP ventilation is its great design, 425,000 cubic feet per minute flow that can be diverted to HEPA and then decreased to 100,000 cfm. The system is designed such that air flow is always over people before waste and then exhausted so anything coming from the waste cannot contact people. The system worked beautifully. It will take some time to determine the source, but one incident in 15 years is awfully good. WIPP has disposed of almost 100,000 cubic meters of waste, some fairly high-level (>7 Ci/liter), hotter than anything left in the Hanford tanks. Now WIPP is merely nearly perfect.
Video from the Town Hall meeting
Q&A starts at minute 57
Q: Can we definitively say the release is from Panel 7, Room 7
A:Yes--because all the other rooms are full and completely sealed up
We haven't gone in there, not because the radiation is high or anything, just because we are following safety protocols. Following our safety disciple.
Q: Do you have any idea when you can get in to look?
A: I owe the DOE a plan, we are putting together that plan, and once it gets approved we will take those steps
Q: Do you know source of the release, is it high level waste?
A: Thats not really how that works, thank you. <seriously this was the guys answer>
A: Go look at the exhibits on airflow, they are very informative.
Q: Was there a release to the outside <lots of turmoil, let him answer, let him answer>
A: First of all, when you are talking about a leaking, first of all we are not leaking anything underground. First of all we don't have anything leaking. It a little bit of a misnomer. We have a documented safety analysis, and we have mitigative actions we put in place. How do we protect our employee, how do we protect our environment outside. <more questions> Our ventilation system is deisgned to go into filtration mode, HE filters that traps at a 99.97% efficiency, no it is not designed to trap 100%. Station A before the filter, is much higher than at Station B after the filter. How we characterise and certify the waste...we do not take liquid waste, so stuff is not oozing out, there is nothing like stuff is coming out becuase no one is doing their job. There is nothing leaking in the underground, we need to go look before any action like I need to be fired.
Q: Were that any waste containers that were in transport to Room 7 during the fire on the 5th.
A: The waste during that time, we have to do we come in we have to do and making sure that everything is in place.
Q: You say it take several weeks to get results on tests. Is there a test at the hospital we can take.
A: We have a whole body count chamber, lay there about 45 minutes, and give you a report that shows what isotopes and activities are.
Q: Then how come that test has results in 1 hour.
A: The whole body scan, its only for Gamma, not Alpha or Beta, Harder to do the Alpha tests......
Q: Was the maintenance schedule on that Loader was it just too old and had to be replaced.
A: The loader was maintained and up to date, we do have a lot of equipment that is old....and some other mines have equipment that is 50 years old. Its all proceduralized
Q: Was the fire suppression system working?
A: It was inspected in 2013
Q: There was a mention that you had a plan to deliver to DOE for approval, what is the schedule
A: We do not have a schedule, its a process, and at the end of that process, we will have a very good plan.
Q: are we talking months
A: not months
Q: for Mr Hardy, how many fixed air samplers are there?
A: described 3, mumbling hard to hear.
Q: Are there some DOE sites too?
A: They have samples but not results.
Q: Do you actually know the direction of the winds? There are 3 monitors
A: Those locations chosen based on meteroligical data on prevailing winds. No, but we can do soil samples around the facility.
Q: Mr Heaton said a big gust of wind would be needed to get the particles moving. But now we have high winds and that could blow that radiation all over. Now you are talking about soil samples at some time in the future.
A: Very low levels
Q: It was 42 DPS in your first sample, subsequent to filtering our the background .64 is what was left after subtracting background.
A: After filtering out the radon, uranium, thorium, natural sources.
Q: Is 42 a concern?
A: Yes the increase 42 it would be a concern
Q: So just breathing 42 a day now should be a concern
A: No because that is background.
Q: Confused on the .03% release on filters, is that happening right now? Is there high level waste in the future?
A: I think what you are commenting on 4.5 days, sample, we got .64 DPS, also ran for 2 days, and got .007DPS then
Q: That is not answering my question, forgive, the filtration system kicked in, leaving .03% which is escaping, and is that happening now. In the future if the waste is more high level do we get higher releases.
A: Joe Patrell: HEPA performance tested to 99.97%, when even happened. Over time the release acticity underground has dropped off geometrically. There is much less activity, so less getting through.
Q: in the future would something that was 10 time more radioative more that mean 10 times the release
A: blah blah design basis, build the system, so keep the levels below certain levels, we have training and emergency response, and all factors go into original assessment of facility.
A: The waste forms, a potential future high level waste would have a different waste form.
Q: How far up the chain of government, has this event gone. Its already international news.
A: I am getting all the support I need, and energy directo Moniz has been informed, we have communication and resources, and we are reaching out, blah blah. Using the latest and greatest instrumentation.
Q: You do not know what happened yet,
A: No, But entry in to the mine is important.
Q: German scientist entered and spoke highly.
A: We have international relations......
Mod: Any questions from the press
Q John Smith--Protocol was not followed in terms of releasing the report on the previous fire.
A: From DOE investigation team, is working on report as we speak.
Q: How many people came to the chamber since the leakage.
A: 1000's of people since 1998, none since the leak.
Q: At what nubmer coming out would it become dangerous for citizens
A: DOE different regulations, per EPA has on average annual 25 mrem per year average. Someone there would be around a few milli-REM, does that answer your question.
Q: When Hardy was pulling the filter, was dose did he get?
A: The release was essentially over, he was probably just exposed to just background radiation.
Q: Is the filter still doing it's job, is it dirty, is it self cleaning.
A: Good question, not like filters in our home, they are big. They are huge. We will replace them, the HEPA filters are from day one of the facility. Specialized type of aerosols, 99.97%. They are huge and multiple, with prefilters, and good filters, then HEPA.
A: 2x2 filters, we have banks of filters. Measure diffferential pressure, still showing that it is working properly.
Q: Heh, I understand you have contingencies, how much real world experience do you have in accidents like this?
A: This is the first one
Q: Same question, collectively how much experience.
A: This is very abnormal event for us, and we have support, in a situation like this, we are a small community. We been working long hours....2 significant events in 10 days.
A: DOE side, we have experience in our organization. I worked at Hanford, deputy has 30 years in government. Imporant that procedures are followed.
Q: I haven't udnerstood 75% of what was talked about, there are conspiracy theorist, I'm just a Mom, my first reaction was to start praying. Is there a chance that we could be being exposed right now...in water or air, while we are waiting for samples.
A: DOE we pick up samples that are happening. Discussing tonight that levels are low, very low. And there is no risk from this event.
Q: OK and thats for sure right now.
A: Hardy is independent of us.
A:Look at the levels that are required by regulatory agencies, what you CAN release into the environment, those numbers are actually not zero. I am not downplaying this.
Q:What is the reportable amount
A: I believe, i think, the reportable amount is 84 microcuries, it is below that number. When you fly you get cosmic raidation, 0.6 mrem on airplane (go online and Google it), Chest xray or an xray on your tooth OK on your jaw is 10 mrem, the numbers here are around 1 mrem. I am here and I know it is safe.
A: We are seeing minor activity, its very small.
Q: Concerned about radiation, but more concerned about the particle, the plutonium, talking about the radiation, but what are the chronic and acute effect of inhaling plutonium particles, the ones that were blowing out in the wind.
A: <chief weasal smirking hands off to DOE guy> So an acute, is a prompt response to a very high level. So that doesn't apply here. For health physics go outside and speak with people in the kiosks outside. We received .1 mrem from this, but we got .1 mrem while we have been in the townhall.
Q: So you say it is OK to breath in plutonium?
A: Exposure is exposure, a millirem is a millarem, its the same.
Q: Before the plant was made, where they are procedures made for the community in emergencies?
A: So when we have emergency operations, we have a procedure that cover this stuff, and this event did not meet the threshold
Q: But what if it exceeded that
A: Yes we have procedures, blah blah
Mod A: The systems that were in place, the monitor, the filters, worked, they worked PERFECTLY. From the very beginning we never thought this type of event could occur. And we picked a tenured professor to report results with no collusion without being intimidated by anyone. "If we find something, we are going to report it". This can be mitigated in short order <sound quality increases, 1000% at this point> can get on with productive work, nice repository, appreciate you coming.
Rep Brown, house bill 313,
Reaction, good meeitng, overall impression, 2 incidents, response was working, I hope people were asuaged with the answer.
Flying from El Paso to Dallas 10 mrem, is far higher, so do not turn question marks into exclamation points. Stay calm. Take a while to test filters. Deal with facts not speculation. Paying attention in the future, I believe the WIPP Site will be just fine.
John Waters Carlsbad Development, its a very professional group here, consider most towns in this area and types of responses are worse, and these guys are dotting their i's and crossing their t's, they are members of our community. Carlsbad is open for business. I am telling them it's safe. Everyones OK, the environments OK, its a great business and its very safe, an incredible safety culture, has actually made our town safer. I think we are getting all the information. Solve the problem and move on, cause we have bigger and better things to do.
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