NM Delegation Responds to Report by WIPP Technical Assessment Team

WASHINGTON, D.C. Today, U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Reps. Steve Pearce and Ben Ray Luján issued the following joint statement on the report by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Technical Assessment Team, analyzing the scientific cause of the drum failure that led to the Feb. 14, 2014, radiological incident at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). 

"Today's report answers some of the questions about what led to the radiological release at WIPP on Feb. 14, 2014. We thank the scientists, including experts from Sandia Labs, for their work, which was done in coordination with the analysis by DOE's Accident Investigation Board.

"The Technical Assessment Team concluded that the release was caused by a chemical reaction with some incompatible materials that were added to one specific drum. We look forward to reviewing the recommendations of the Accident Investigation Board report in the coming weeks. Similarly, New Mexico Tech will soon begin a peer review of the Technical Assessment Team work, which will provide an independent second look at the science and causes of the release.  The multiple layers of assessment are another step in the process of reopening WIPP and ensuring the continued safety of both WIPP and Los Alamos National Lab.  

"In the meantime, we will continue doing everything we can to ensure resources are available to resume cleanup at Los Alamos and safely reopen WIPP."