Morning Briefing - June 11, 2019
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June 11, 2019

DNFSB Reschedules Hearing on WIPP, Idaho Incidents

By ExchangeMonitor

The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) has set the new date for a public hearing on two radioactive waste drum accidents in the Energy Department weapons complex.

The hearing, originally set for last month, is now scheduled for noon to 4 p.m. Thursday, June 20, at DNFSB headquarters in Washington D.C.. The hearing was delayed due to problems with witness availability.

The hearing will examine causes and lessons learned from incidents at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico in February 2014 and the Idaho National Laboratory in April 2018. Board members plan to discuss efforts to improve waste handling at Energy Department nuclear facilities and examine potential vulnerabilities.

Individuals may submit written comments before or during the hearing. Anyone interested in speaking during the public comment period must preregister by emailing a request to hearing@dnfsb.gov.

On April 11, 2018, four drums of sludge waste overheated and blew off their lids hours after the contents were exposed to air during repackaging at the Idaho National Laboratory’s Accelerated Retrieval Project 5 facility. The waste, stored for decades on-site at the lab, originally came from the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant in Colorado.

More than four years earlier, an underground radiation leak at the transuranic waste disposal site in New Mexico caused WIPP to suspend operations for about three years.

The initial agenda for May 22 listed more than a half-dozen witnesses, including Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environmental Management Anne Marie White, who has resigned effective Friday. An updated witness list had not been posted as of Tuesday.