Wall St. Journal: Report reveals WIPP containment system leaked radiation — ‘Unfiltered’ plutonium released into environment for 20 days after accident — Something like this “wasn’t supposed to happen for 10,000 years” (VIDEO)

Thursday, April 24, 2014
By Paul Martin

April 24th, 2014

AP, Apr. 23, 2014: Board chairman Ted Wyka previewed the [Department of Energy’s Accident Investigation Board report] findings at a community meeting Wednesday […] Shortcomings were found at almost every step, from a more than 10-hour response to the initial emergency alarm to a bypass in the filtration system that allowed the radiation to escape above ground. “The bottom line is they failed to believe initial indications of the release,” Wyka said. […] Crews are still working to identify the source of the leak, which sent low levels of radiation into the air around the plant, but officials believe it occurred in the area where toxic waste was last being handled. Officials Wednesday night said there were people working in that area at the time of the fire, but did not say what they were doing.

Ventilation system leakage went unsealed from when the radiation event occurred on Feb. 14 until Mar. 6

Wall St. Journal, Apr. 23, 2014: A separate problem surfaced during the Feb. 14 radiation accident: The containment system leaked, allowing some radiation to escape from underground. The plant hadn’t experienced a radiation accident previously, and site-maintenance procedures didn’t require that the containment system be tested for leakage, Energy Department officials said. […] While a radiation-containment system was installed, it didn’t have the “safety pedigree that we would want.” Such a radiation accident at the site “wasn’t supposed to happen for 10,000 years,” said Geoffrey Fettus, a senior attorney at environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council and a former New Mexico state assistant attorney general who worked on issues related to the plant.

Ted Wyka, chairman of Department of Energy’s Accident Investigation Board, Apr. 23, 2014 (at 1:04:00 in): HEPA filter bypass dampers, they represent a pathway — and they did — of unfiltered exhaust to the environment. […] They have an unacceptable design leakage for a containment boundary. That bypass dampers around the HEPA filters, which operated with the efficiency that you would expect… design leakage reduces the overall efficiency of the HEPA filter system, and was the source of the release on Feb. 14, that bypass around the HEPA filters

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