Monday, April 28, 2014

MAX ALERT! "GREEN BURST" At WIPP Electrical Substation Triggered By Deadly Radioactive Americium Cloud

Based on our analysis of  the US Department of Energy's [DOE] Accident Investigation Report, the first indication of a massive radioactive release from the WIPP facility occurred at 10:50pm on 2/14/2014 when a  radioactive cloud of weapons grade Americium and Plutonium became so massively concentrated above WIPP's  electrical sub-station that an electrical "GREEN BURST" was triggered via the radioactively ionized air.

That electrical substation is located directly next to the underground mine's exhaust shaft. WIPP's electrical substation ended up functioning exactly like a screaming Geiger counter. with each pop and "green burst" telling people to get the hell out of there. The radioactively ionized air allowed electrical arcing to occur across the substation resulting in WIPP's site security reporting that electrical "GREEN BURST". It is the scientific principal Geiger counters are based upon.

Americium is known to cause exactly this electrical discharge effect. That effect is why Americium is used in smoke detectors to produce a continuous state of ionization and electrical discharge, which when interrupted by smoke particles causes an alarm to sound. Unfortunately WIPP's personnel didn't recognize what that "green burst" and those "arcing noises" meant. Moreover if DOE recognized what happened at the substation, they are not admitting it. We believe DOE only included its mention because they had to explain why the Facility Site Manager [FSM] was near the exhaust shaft ready to manually turn on the HEPA filters when the underground alarm sounded.  But who can blame DOE for seemingly hiding the facts? After all National Security is at risk if WIPP shuts down, not to mention the millions of dollars of legal claims the Government will have to settle if those Security guards and that Site manager get good lawyers.

Unfortunately, little did WIPP's site security and the FSM know that the GREEN BURST" they were responding to was drawing them in like insects to a bug zapper. Sadly, these people now face a long, slow and agonizing death from that radioactive cloud. A cloud which was thought to be a false alarm until nearly 11 hours later, by which time these people were sent home without any radiation testing taking place.

At this point those of you have have read DOE's Accident Investigation Report (see links below), should ask why the underground {CAM] Continuous Air Monitor RAM-31 Radiation Detector didn't Alarm until 23 minutes after that "GREEN BURST" was first noticed at the electrical substation. The simple answer is that the substation was appropriately sized to instantaneously respond to the concentration of Americium and Plutonium present.

On the other hand, the underground CAM, only samples a very small volume of a very large movement of air. The sampling size and rate is unlikely to be suitable to rapidly detect such a release. The detection is also highly dependent on the location of the CAM's small air intake. Photos from WIPP indicate that CAM air intake is located about 5-6 feet above floor level, while the height of the tunnels are around 12 feet tall. Since the Plutonium / Americium release was likely driven by an exothermic reaction (fire / explosion), radioactive materials would have been flowing like invisible smoke at the top portion of the tunnels, in other words they were floating out of reach of the CAM's air intake. A situation akin to hanging your smoke detector half way up a wall instead of on the ceiling(see CAM photo)

Eventually enough radioactivity fell low enough in the tunnel that the CAM was able to detect the radioactive build up on its filters. (note the CAM automatically changes filters and is non functional during change overs). That detection triggered a switch over from a high speed mine ventilation rate of 260,000 CFM  to a much lower speed of 60,000 CFM, suitable for the HEPA filters. But unlike which was claimed over and over again to reassure the public, that slower air was not directed into the HEPA filters until after Facility Site Manager manually  turned air flow diverter valves at the mine's exhaust. That manual activation happened at approximately 11:25pm, eleven minutes after the CAM alarm sounded and thirty-five minutes after the "GREEN BURST" was noticed at the above ground electrical sub-station.

So, the CAM did eventually detect the underground radiation, but not before a massive cloud of Americium and Plutonium had been released into the environment. A recording of the CAM's reading is shown below, note that the radiation levels were so high that the detector malfunctioned. The drop off at 11:42pm is indicative of detector saturation, aka a sampling rate error that made the system read erroneously low. At that time the CAM alerted the operator to the malfunction and the operator reportedly shut off the alarm, but not the CAM as it kept producing readings. Note the alarm's set-point was 30 DAC, and the radioactive count went into the hundreds of thousands.

Looking at the above chart, the original alarm setpoint of 30 DAC (Bq*M^3)/Hour which occurred at 11:13pm is barely noticeable. By 11:21pm the effect of the reduced ventilation fan speed triggered at 11:14pm is becoming noticeable.  This effect occurs because the radioactive smoke is now being released into a smaller volume of air, thusly making it more detectable. By 11:25pm the impact of the HEPA filters on the air flow is coming into full effect. Simultaneously the lower airflow and reduced oxygen supply is making the radioactive fire burn less efficiently and with more smoke. By 12:35am the HEPA filters began to clog as a  result.  WIPP workers notice a similar Smokey occurrence during the non-radioactive Feb 5th fire when normal ventilation was switched to HEPA, the thin high level smoke turned black and began lowering from the ceiling, filling the mine with smoke and causing the workers to choke. Had workers been underground during the the Feb 14th event the switch to HEPA filters would have turned that smoke inhalation into radiation poisoning. 

As for the Carlsbad and all the people downwind of WIPP, the 2/14/14 Nuclear fire was much worse than is being reported by the DOE, and it happened at least an hour earlier than DOE has postulated.  All in all the DOE report is extremely poor in analysis and those that submitted it should be ashamed. It is clear that DOE is doing all it can to under report what happened at WIPP, and their mathematical obfuscation of the environmental radiation levels based on technical procedures which peanut butter out radioactive concentration over the sampling period instead of the incident occurrence time frame is unconscionable and sinful.

It is obvious to the POTRBLOG team that WIPP is unsafe for its workers and the public, and that it will remain so until the true issues are addressed.


DOE WIPP Accident Investigation Report

Smoke Detectors and Americium

ALERT: DOE CONFIRMS OUR REPORT! WIPP Plutonium Release Initially Unfiltered & HEPA System Was MANUALLY Started, Resulting In Human Contamination

WIPP's Radiation Detection Equipment Was Overwhelmed By Explosive Plutonium Release


  1. Maybe the lateness in turning on the HEPA filters (by hand) was because alarms are always going off around WIPP and maybe precious time was lost by alarms being ignored. Just an idea, no proof. But when you read the logs you see alarms going off that are just part of the norm there.

    HEPA filter test results
    page 2 NOTES on this:

    1. thats certainly one of the reasons; in addition as we have indicated in a follow on report, the underground radiation detector has about 6 feet of airspace above it where hot radiation can flow through like a river without detection. Its equivalent to mounting a smoke detector half way up a wall, as opposed to mounting it on the ceiling. The result is that Americium was spewed out into the WIPPs electrical substation at least an hour prior to the alarms going off. That Americium caused arc flashing at the substation and would have shut down power to the site had the wind not picked up reduced concentrations in the immediate areas.


  2. I just came across this article:

    1. As we blogged about on Feb 25th, Room 7 is the location identified as room most likely to have a build up of explosive gases.

      Given there was also a Cesium 137 detection, one can surmise the explosion involved one of the remote handled waste containers in Room 7 of panel 7.

  3. system feed from wisp