09:28 GMT12 July 2020
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    Despite the fact that there are strict rules for the disposal of radioactive nuclear waste, the US Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory recently lost track of 250 barrels of it. It isn’t the only recent nuclear problem, Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste watchdog at the organization Beyond Nuclear, told Sputnik.

    According to regulators, the barrels contained low-level radioactive waste and other hazardous materials and were shipped to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico, without being tracked by the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The lab’s records showed that the waste was still on-site, even though it had already been shipped to the plant, AP reported.

    WIPP is a geological repository used to store radioactive waste, located about 26 miles southeast of Carlsbad. The site stores waste more than 2,000 feet underground in a salt formation.

    The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that Triad National Security LLC, an association of nonprofits that manages the lab's operations, has violated its permit from the New Mexico Environment Department 19 times in the last year.

    “Los Alamos has had some bad experiences in the last several weeks,” Kamps told hosts Brian Becker and Nicole Roussell on Wednesday. 

    “Another incident involved a residue of calcium chemicals that are flammable if they are concentrated enough, and that’s just the scenario that back in 2014 led to a barrel burst in the WIPP underground that cost $2 billion to recover from and shut down the WIPP dump for three years,” Kamps told Sputnik. 

    “Los Alamos just got busted, yet again, with another problem - flammability or explosive potential of their barrels - and it was caught by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, which wouldn’t you know: there is a move in the Department of Energy [DOE] but also in Congress to get rid of this independent watchdog agency in the federal government - probably because they catch things like this, and the DOE doesn’t like being caught,” he explained.

    Kamps said the DOE loves “to tout how great everything goes at WIPP. They live in an alternative reality. We deal with this nuclear propagandist named James Conca who goes way back at WIPP, and just in recent days, he put out this article that was promoting bringing 200,000 metric tons of high-level commercial radioactive waste to New Mexico or immediately upon its border for this interim storage idea.”

    According to the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, “consolidated ‘interim’ storage facilities would be sites to which irradiated high-level nuclear waste would be moved before being shipped to a currently non-existent permanent repository. These facilities would allow the storage of commercial irradiated waste from all over the country to an additional nuclear sacrifice area.”

    “They say interim because it’s supposed to be a stepping stone to Yucca; that’s their plan. Of course, Yucca isn’t going to happen. So the open secret is, once the waste gets out there, it’s not going anywhere. It’s going to get stuck there,” Kamps explained.

    The Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository is a facility proposed by the Nuclear Waste Policy Act which would store thousands of tons of spent reactor fuel and other high-level radioactive waste in Nye County, Nevada. 

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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