At Planet Waves, we keep a close eye on nuclear issues and the horoscopes of nuclear events. If you’re curious about the topic, I can share with you an article we published in November called Notes from Downwind. There is a central chart to track these issues, called the Nuclear Axis. Right now, Neptune is the most active chart in the Nuclear Axis chart — which means that we will be seeing a lot more news about radiation leaks, and radiation in water. This week we have several such stories, researched by Elizabeth Michaud and Chad Woodward. –efc
There’s a place in New Mexico used as a nuclear dump, with a fancy name: a Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or WIPP. Located near a town called Carlsbad, it’s basically a deep hole leading to a facility beneath the magnificent New Mexico landscape.
There, the government deposits waste materials left over from research and production of nuclear bombs, many of which were tested in New Mexico. The dump is located deep within an area excavated out of a thick layer of salt in the Earth’s crust, about 2,200 feet down.
It’s supposed to hold out for 10,000 years.
But two weeks ago, managers of the privately-run facility noticed that there was a radiation leak, which means radioactivity being released from the nuclear waste containment area to the outer environment. It went from hundreds of feet under the ground clear to the surface, where it was detected. This is no ordinary leak — it contains plutonium, the bad boy of nuclear materials. Officials there claim to not know how it happened, but it may be that a ceiling collapse crushed radioactive waste barrels.
The current series of problems goes back to Feb. 5, when a fire broke out in an underground vehicle used to haul salt. That was in a non-radioactive area. Then on Feb. 14, radiation detectors went off, leading to the plant’s management issuing a shelter in place order for all employees. On Feb. 28, the facility’s owners admitted that 13 people had been contaminated.
The website Veterans Today is reporting that there is an active fire in the dump, and that enough radiation to kill 35,000 people had been released. If we are talking about plutonium, which has escaped from the underground dump, that would be the equivalent of about a grain of sand or less.
Whatever is happening inside this place, the radiation took a lot less than 10,000 years to get out. And that is the nuclear problem. No matter how safe anyone claims it is, radiation is extremely difficult to contain. And it’s so toxic it’s difficult to imagine its potency.
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