AP: Crews retreat after nuclear material found at WIPP — Officials: Correct to turn back, contamination was increasing — Robots brought to site for radiation levels too high for humans — ‘Significant amount of information’ will be revealed to public in next few days (VIDEOS)

Friday, April 18, 2014
By Paul Martin

ENENews.com
April 18th, 2014

AP, Apr. 17, 2014: Crews on their fourth trip into the mine on Wednesday made it into the only active waste storage area and found contamination, [Tammy Reynolds, U.S. Dept. of Energy’s deputy recovery manager] said. The deeper they went into the area, the more widespread the contamination, she said. But the crews had to retreat before identifying the possible source because they had been underground for five hours in protective gear that retains heat and the batteries on their respiratory equipment were running low. […] The next step is for crews, and possibly robots, to go back down to see if they can identify what caused the leak.

Tammy Reynolds, deputy WIPP recovery manager: “The more they went into panel seven, the more (the contamination) became more widespread […] They made the correct decision to turn back […] Everyone was safely returned to the surface.”

John Heaton, former state representative and chairman of the Carlsbad Mayor’s Nuclear Taskforce, WIPP Town Hall, Apr. 17, 2014 (at 7:00 in): I think that next week might a very busy week in that I think that there will be progress to report in terms as to what might have been the cause and also Phase 1 of the accident investigation report. […] I believe — I hate to speculate on this — but there will be a significant amount of information that will come out next week. So I think it will be a very important meeting and I think we need to have adequate time for people to be able to ask questions.

Reynolds, WIPP Town Hall, Apr. 17, 2014 (at 23:00 in): One of the other things we’ve been working on is the contingency plan […] They’ve been working to have robots prepared that in the event that the conditions in the underground don’t allow us to be able to get to the waste space or other parts of the mine later on in recovery activities because of the level of contamination, as a contingency we’re looking at the use of robots. And so there’s a couple of robot operators, they’ve already been to the WIPP site, they’ve received all of the training they would need to go into the underground […] they’ve completed that. And today they brought the robots out to the site and they did a demonstration for us […] so that if we can’t go and visibly put our eyes on certain pieces of the mine, the robot can do that for us and feed us back that information.

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