From: Monona Rossol <0000030664c37427-dmarc-request**At_Symbol_Here**LISTS.PRINCETON.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Chemical Safety headlines (8 articles)
Date: Wed, 4 Aug 2021 13:12:35 +0000
Reply-To: Monona Rossol <actsnyc**At_Symbol_Here**CS.COM>
Message-ID: 1425234695.3153933.1628082755727**At_Symbol_Here**
In-Reply-To <99D88F82-98A7-4B8E-8EAE-C18CB8ADCA3D**At_Symbol_Here**>

Sad but so funny when you think about the reason.  These are the barrels of radioactive waste that were mixed with kitty litter.  That was a good idea when most kitty litters were ground fire clay, an inert mineral.  But when the environmental folks decided to make kitty litter "biodegradable and natural" they switched to agricultural waste and other organic sources.  The haz waste  people just kept buying kitty litter without reading the labels or asking for the SDSs.  Now we have a disaster on our hands.


Tags: us_nm, industrial, discovery, enviromental, radiation, waste

Los Alamos National Laboratory has identified 45 barrels of radioactive waste so potentially explosive - due to being mixed with incompatible chemicals - that crews have been told not to move them and instead block off the area around the containers, according to a government watchdog's report.

Crews have worked to ferret out drums containing volatile compounds and move them to a more secure domed area of the lab after the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board issued a scathing report last year saying there were possibly hundreds of barrels of unstable nuclear waste.

The safety board estimated an exploding waste canister could expose workers to 760 rem, far beyond the threshold of a lethal dose. A rem is a unit used to measure radiation exposure. In its latest weekly report, the safety board said crews at Newport News Nuclear BWXT Los Alamos, also known as N3B - the contractor in charge of cleaning up the lab's legacy waste - have pegged 60 barrels with volatile mixtures and have relocated 15 drums to the domed area.

Forty-five barrels are deemed too dangerous to move, raising questions of what ultimately can be done with them and how hazardous it would be to keep them in their current spot.

"The current restrictions are that the containers shall not be moved," the report said. "There is a marked buffer zone established around each container of potential concern, and intrusive operations are prohibited within the buffer zone."

Officials at the U.S. Department of Energy's environmental management office said they couldn't comment on the report or on how the lab stores waste, citing lack of time to answer questions.

Volatile waste mixtures have received more attention since 2014 when a waste container from the Los Alamos lab packaged with a blend of organic cat litter and nitrate salts burst in an underground chamber of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad. The radioactive release contaminated the storage site so extensively it shut down for three years and cost $2 billion to clean up.

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