On Feb. 9, 2014 the New York Times reported about the nuclear depository in Carlsbad, New Mexico. It is half a mile below the surface, and was thought to be an ideal storage site for nuclear weapons waste. However, the article goes on to say that there had recently been a fire at the site
when a truck hauling salt in the mine caught fire. Smoke forced an evacuation of workers and a shutdown of waste burial operations, which officials said was temporary. They said the fire did not affect the radioactive waste, which is stored at the other end of the mine…. the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, WIPP for short, is drawing new attention here in the New Mexico desert. At a time when the effort to find a place for highly radioactive civilian and military wastes is at a near-standstill, officials say the site might be a solution.
Initially, there was reported to be no danger to people or the facility. However, the story has become more ominous with the passage of time. There was a report today by CBS that
Officials said they can tell from their analyses of air samples in and around the plant that a container of waste leaked, but it could be weeks before they can get underground to find out what caused it. Possible scenarios include a ceiling collapse or a forklift puncturing a canister, Farok Sharif, president of the Nuclear Waste Partnership, said Monday before a community meeting in Carlsbad. More than 250 people attended that forum, where Sharif and Joe Franco, the DOE site office manager, told sometimes skeptical residents that the elevated amounts of radiation that have been detected offer no more risk than a dental X-ray or an airline flight….The Department of Energy has acknowledged that 13 workers at its nuclear waste dump 26 miles southeast of Carlsbad, N.M., tested positive for radiological contamination following an underground leak on Feb. 14. Exposed personnel were working above ground at the 16-square-mile facility,
Initially, the story seemed minor, but with the passage of time the problem is getting worse. Now there is a fire in a place underground and no easy access to the site. The radioactive material is leaking into the air, exposing workers and the down wind community at large.