Society News Archive

17 April 2015
DOE Report on February 2014 WIPP Accident

The Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM) released the Accident Investigation Board (AIB) Phase II report on the 14 February 2014 accident at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

The AIB completed an exhaustive investigation at WIPP and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to examine the cause of the radiological release at WIPP and identify managerial controls and safety measures necessary to prevent or minimize the probability or severity of a recurrence of this type of accident.

Based on postevent chemical, radiological, and fire forensic analyses, the AIB concluded that the release was caused by an exothermic reaction involving the mixture of organic materials and nitrate salts in one drum that was processed at LANL in December 2013. The AIB also concluded that an underground salt haul truck fire that occurred at WIPP on 5 February 2014 did not cause or contribute to the radiological release event. The AIB's findings identify shortcomings within both contractor and federal processes at LANL, WIPP, EM, and the National Nuclear Security Administration.

This report follows the AIB's Phase I Report, which focused on the immediate response to the radiological event. The AIB also conducted a  separate investigation into the 5 February truck fire in the underground portion of the WIPP facility.

The reports can be accessed on the DOE/EM website.