Wednesday, June 29, 2011

No Risk

Wildfires are bearing down on a nuclear facility in New Mexico where 30,000 drums of nuclear waste are sitting in the open. From:

Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory Under Siege From Raging Wildfire, The Telegraph, June 29, 2011
"Joni Arends, executive director of the Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety group, said: “The concern is that these drums will get so hot that they’ll burst. That would put this toxic material into the plume. It’s a concern for everybody.”
"Officials have said there is no risk of contaminated material getting into the giant smoke plume rising over the area."
No risk. That's not the same as low risk. If I am sitting in a cabin off the shore of Lake Wallenpaupack tapping away on my laptop, there is no risk that I will fall out of an aircraft. No risk. I'm not going to sit in my cabin wearing a parachute because there is no risk.

But those Los Alamos officials:
"... have stepped up efforts to monitor radiation levels in the air, using 60 monitors. The Environmental Protection Agency also deployed a special plane to test the air at higher levels."
Why, if there is no risk? It tarnishes your credibility. You may need that for later. Tokyo Electric Power Company did.


Dr. Mel said...

My husband, who used to work as a civilian scientist for the Army (before Reagan was elected), says that in addition to the Los Alamos plant itself, there's danger from the fire crossing land with a huge amount of various highly toxic or radioactive materials buried in it. Why am I not more specific about what materials? Elementary my dear Watson: no one knows anymore what's there, as the records have been "misplaced" since WWII.

Bix said...

Misplaced. Oh, for...

Storing radioactive waste in above-ground tents in a fire-prone area seems, well, unimaginative.

caulfieldkid said...

Indeed. Creating radioactive waste that we don't know what to do with seems unimaginative.

virginia said...

I heard rumors of this storage facility a few years ago, and today it's featured on:

Bix said...

That's a good site for updates.

I was looking at some satellite views of the fire. It's enormous.