As investigators keep trying to pinpoint what caused a drum of radioactive waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory to pop open and leak in an underground repository near Carlsbad, the lab’s review of the incident has led to uncertainty over the volatility of hundreds of other drums, including dozens still at Los Alamos.
The lab notified state environment officials late last month that it was re-evaluating and relabeling as “ignitable” or “corrosive” the contents of 86 drums at LANL.
The review also raises questions about the safety of some barrels underground at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP}:
The Department of Energy also is reviewing and relabeling more than 300 LANL containers with similar chemicals that are stored in WIPP’s underground salt caverns.
The re-evaluation raises questions about the scope of the problem that led to the leak at WIPP. Lab officials had previously said they believed the problem was isolated to two drums that contained a unique blend of chemicals, causing one of the drums to burst.