Department of Energy releases report critical of WIPP

Created: 04/24/2014 5:19 PM
By: Lauren Hansard, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The Department of Energy released a 300 page report Thursday highlighting serious problems at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

The report comes two months after a radiation leak there.

In the report, the DOE says the above ground radiation leak was preventable.

The report says, "a measurable portion bypassed the HEPA filters and was discharged directly into the environment from an exhaust duct."

Investigators said that would not have happened if the filter had been properly maintained.

But that’s not all.

While investigating, the board found a list of out-of-service equipment.

Investigators say there is an “acceptance to tolerate” out-of-service equipment and "prioritization of maintenance of equipment is not given unless there is an immediate impact."

Also noted were issues in the emergency response.

The report says, “The emergency management program was not adequately structured.”

And it did not "classify the emergency and implement protective actions in a timely manner."

Federal investigators said a dissipating culture of safety caused the leak.

They say nearly 20 emergency drills were cancelled last year and this highlights a lack of proper oversight and "sets the expectation that safety is not a priority for management."

WIPP investigators still haven’t been able to identify the exact source of the underground leak.

WIPP released a statement Thursday afternoon about the report.

It says the plant is already implementing changes to address some of the problems found.

You can view the complete WIPP report here.

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