Government Rules : Don’t Hurt The project

During the early 1980’s I was working on the Safety Analysis Report for the DOE’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in southeastern New Mexico. One day my bosses’ boss (a charming gentleman from India) came by and said :

You guys are doing a great job. A really great job. Just make sure you don’t find anything which hurts the project

I quit that job about 15 minutes later. Fast forward to today :

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Energy has appointed a team to investigate the detection of radiation in and near a southeastern New Mexico facility that’s the nation’s only underground nuclear waste repository in operation.  The assessment of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant will be conducted by an accident investigation board consisting of department officials and representatives of health and safety agencies, the department said in a statement released late Wednesday.

Team to probe event at New Mexico nuclear site – DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG


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7 Responses to Government Rules : Don’t Hurt The project

  1. Bob Knows says:

    I worked at WIPP in the late 1980s after the Corps of Engineers got into a fight with DOE and left. If they could have found anywhere else that is as far from anywhere as WIPP, they would have put it there instead. The story said “trace amounts” and “far below safe levels.” The biggest problem is WASTING more and more of OUR money instead of just getting on with waste disposal.

    • Jason Calley says:

      “The biggest problem is WASTING more and more of OUR money instead of just getting on with waste disposal.”

      Hey Bob, you need to put on your “political thinking cap” and look at it from the point of view that an elected sociopath would have. “The biggest OPPORTUNITY is WASTING more and more of OUR money instead of just getting on with waste disposal.”

      I wish I were joking.

      Speaking of WIPP — why not build it somewhere with more limited access to aquifers and drainage basins, like in the Great Basin in Wyoming? There are salt beds there too, I believe, and in a worse case scenario at least the waste would be confined to the basin area.

  2. Sean says:

    I recall speaking with scientists that worked at the Hanford Nuclear site. It was clear that their mission related to nuclear weapons was in pretty severe decline by the late 1980’s to early 1990’s but no one was worried about about losing their jobs. There was so much waste site remediation that had to be done even new hires had job security for a complete their government careers in eastern Washington State.

  3. I. Lou Minotti says:

    Isn’t it a great feeling to be vindicated for your stand against bullshit? I’m surprised he didn’t ask you if you wanted your fries supersized.

  4. Billy Liar says:


    A little CO2 – pollution.

    A little airborne Americium and Plutonium – well, that’s OK.

  5. Bob Knows says:

    Is there any place on earth that doesn’t have “trace” amounts of Americium and Plutonium? Globe circling dust from testing done in the 40s and 50s probably would show up on the very sensitive instruments used today no matter where on earth they took samples. It might also have come from Japan.

    Also note that WIPP is close down wind of the historic WWII nuclear test and only a few hundred miles down wind of the Nevada test site.

    It is also a little known fact that in the 1950s the government set off a nuclear (weapon) explosion underground near what is now WIPP, only a few miles away. Workers drive by the marker each day on the way out to work from Carlsbad, NM. Its not a big marker and you have to look for it. The explosion was an experiment to find out if underground nuclear explosions would be useful releasing oil or gas from rocks. It worked but the released gas had traces of radioactive elements. Today the gas business uses “fracking” for the same purpose.

    I would be very surprised if the reported trace amounts of plutonium and americium came from waste operations at WIPP. It is a STUPID waste of OUR money to close the plant while they do further tests. The anti-everything people just want to close the WIPP down so they can go back to claiming that nuclear waste has no safe disposal. Americium in your smoke detector, good. Much less trace americium on the earth BAD!

  6. Kepler says:

    “WIPP officials said this was a one-time incident and the leak has stopped.
    They won’t know what caused the leak until they go into the underground facility which isn’t expected to happen for at least three weeks.”

    They have no idea what caused it, but they can assure the public that it was a one-time incident.

    “WIPP officials said the radiation leak is not connected to an underground fire that happened at the plant two weeks ago.”

    Oh that makes me feel much better!

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