DOE Issues Citations for 2014 WIPP Incidents

Operations at the U.S. Department of Energy's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the transuranic waste disposal site outside of Carlsbad, N.M., were suspended after two serious February 2014 incidents involving worker exposures to smoke and radiation.

The U.S. Department of Energy has issued a Preliminary Notice of Violation to Nuclear Waste Partnership, LLC for violations of DOE worker safety and health and nuclear safety requirements and the agency's National Nuclear Security Administration has issued a PNOV to Los Alamos National Security for violations of DOE's nuclear safety requirements, thus completing DOE's investigations and enforcement process from two serious incidents in February 2014 at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. Operations at WIPP, the transuranic waste disposal site outside of Carlsbad, N.M., were suspended after those incidents, which involved worker exposures to smoke and radiation.

Nuclear Waste Partnership, LLC (NWP) is the management and operating contractor for WIPP, while Los Alamos National Security (LANS) is the management and operating contractor for NNSA's Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, N.M.

The Feb. 5, 2014, event involved a fire in a salt haul truck underground, with six workers later treated for smoke inhalation. On Feb. 14, a continuous air monitor went into alarm because of a radiological release; DOE later confirmed 13 workers' radiation exposures. DOE reported that the violations by LANS are associated with processes used by LANS to package and remediate transuranic waste drums, one of which has been linked to the WIPP radiological release.

The NWP notice cites four Severity Level I violations and seven Severity Level II violations related to worker safety and health and nuclear safety requirements enforceable under Title 10 C.F.R. § 851, Worker Safety and Health Program; 10 C.F.R. § 820.11, Information requirements; 10 C.F.R. § 830, Nuclear Safety Management, and 10 C.F.R. § 835, Occupational Radiation Protection. The LANS notice cites two Severity Level I violations and two Severity Level II violations related to nuclear safety requirements enforceable under 10 C.F.R. § 830.

Additional details on both notices and other enforcement actions are available at http://energy.gov/ea/services/enforcement.

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