Jan 28, 2008

More on the TA-48 contamination event

Pinky and I are receiving information from several LANL staff that indicates something more than just another contamination event occurred last week. The message below was just sent in. Anybody else with information pertinent to the not-yet-reported isotopic germanium exposure incident at TA-48 is encouraged to send it to us -- anonymity is guaranteed.

-Gus

_______________________________________________

The incident did happen. In fact, they shut down an adjacent cold lab for 2 days because of the fear of leakage from the hot cells and re-opening required a special RWP for re-entry. For the first time in the history of the blog, I find it amazing that someone is trying to say that something released on the blog is "a hoax" and pulling out CFR documentation to say this event never happened. The silence is disturbing to me as I work in the building - lots of people work in RC-1 at TA-48. We all know this happened. Why "someone" or "some people" are trying to minimize this event is quite interesting. Please keep the post at the top. I think people are truly afraid of revealing any e-mail because this incident is being squelched and for fear of serious retaliation. The one poster describing the people who would want this covered up hit the nail on the head. Something IS being covered up.

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

What do you think will happen to anyone who gets between Mike and his PADs' 20% bonus or between Bechtel/BWXT and their millions in LLC profit fees? I shudder to think about it.

You bet they want to keep this incident quiet. Perhaps NNSA will give them an assist by looking the other way and not asking too many questions.

You saw nothing. You heard nothing. It never happened. Got it?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I lived through the Sigma Am-241 contamination incident personally, and I also have communications with TA-48 residents. This episode is definitely different. Management was generally forthcoming with Sigma residents about the status of the building surveys, the new entry requirements, and the cleanup process. Officially they stayed hush-hush about the specific people involved, but otherwise they were pretty open about what, when and where. The fact that it was a surprise to the blogosphere was, well, surprising to me.

Not so in the current situation at TA-48. Residents aren't getting any information. The site was crawling with extra ES&H types last week and the RP-1 team lead looked like death warmed over, from what I heard. But residents aren't getting any information, beyond what's already been posted.

And yet, someone is parked on this blog claming it's all a hoax. Why? Can we apply Occam's Razor here for a second? Why would there be a hoax involving TA-48 (a site nobody's every heard of) and an isotope of germanium (that nobody's ever heard of either)?

Anonymous said...

For this "event" to be hidden must mean that this must be a big one....Can't wait to hear more.

Anonymous said...

POGO POGO POGO...

I'm telling you people, learn to recognize a BS story when you see it.

The media would be doing live shots from LA if this were true.

Anonymous said...

Wow, their is enough "hype" here to create a headless monster, does anyone have any evidence what so ever?

Anonymous said...

"POGO POGO POGO...
I'm telling you people, learn to recognize a BS story when you see it. The media would be doing live shots from LA if this were true.
1/27/08 9:44 PM"

If they knew about it, sure. I don't know if you've noticed this before but Los Alamos isn't exactly the center of the universe and people at POGO aren't always the first ones on the scene.

Anonymous said...

Well if it is true and they are trying to cover it up then the next step would be to shut down this blog site.

Anonymous said...

Don't they have some responsibility
to inform the residents of the facility?

This would seem to border on criminal behavior!

Anonymous said...

It's pretty clear that January is going to be a tough month for DART/TRC rates.

Which reminds me: If LANS doesn't make >80% of their PBI's this year, supposedly NNSA is allowed to rebid the contract.

Anonymous said...

The news media require confirmation of a story. So if some of you have first-hand information on this incident (someone told me someone thought that someone else looked bad doesn't count), then contact the media. You can start with Roger Snodgrass at the Monitor and move on to the New Mexican (not sure who's covering Los Alamos these days), the AP, Reuters, wherever you think there's a sympathetic ear.

The responsible media will want to hear from at least two of you. They are usually pretty good at keeping things anonymous, but there are no guarantees in this world.

And anonymous comments on this blog don't count either. Sorry.

Eric said...

To all,
I agree with 7:05 entirely. Roger and others treat information professionally, but he and the rest need real facts from real people. Even 7:05, who got the facts right, posted anonymously and so does not count in the eyes of a reporter.

If a person does not want to contact a local reporter, Eli Kintisch at Science, Keay Davidson at the San Francisco Chronicle, and John Fleck at the Albuquerque Journal are also good choices.

They are all discrete, sensitive, and professional.

Good luck.

If you want to know what to say and what not to say, you can ask me how to do it. I will answer anonymous and less anonymous questions, but remember you cannot be anonymous in talking to the reporter though you can be anonymous in the final article.

Anonymous said...

The silence is impressive.

Anonymous said...

6:14 am: "Don't they have some responsibility
to inform the residents of the facility?
This would seem to border on criminal behavior!"

Not just "border on" - it IS criminal behavior, if the "covering up" is being done by LANS, or even DOE. However, at this point, I'd wager another government agency has assumed authority and control of the entire situation. The longer the silence, the bigger the deal.

Eric said...

"I will see your raise and call."

Pinky,

Do with this what you consider appropriate.

I have been sent a draft environmental impact statement by NNSA. I have a hard copy and an electronic copy. The impact statement is about transforming the weapons complex. The NNSA wants well thought out comments. There are many things to comment on.

In the past, when I have sent in comments on similar impact statements, about 80% of the comments have been enacted.

I would appreciate well thought out comments from any readers of this blog. I am willing to share the NNSA materials, individual by individual, but not to post them on the Internet.

Cheers,

Anonymous said...

Eric, that information is publicly available... not hard to find.

Eric said...

It is publicly available, often only in hard copy, often not for Xeroxing, and often at obscure places, but few people ever look at it. Even fewer make useful comments. I have real copies that are much easier to access.

Making useful comments seems to be a way to have an influence on the process.

I am only letting people know that there is an effective way to be more proactive in the future of the Lab or the town, if someone is willing to take the time.

Thanks for the comment.

Pinky and The Brain said...

Eric,
Did you see this post?
Pinky

PS Does the draft environmental impact statement say anything about germanium?

Anonymous said...

TRC, for Total Recordable Cases, is the number of recordable accidents per 200,000 hours worked — the approximate time in hours that 100 employees work in one year. A recordable case is one that requires more than first-aid treatment.

DART, for Days Away, Restricted or Transferred, refers to the number of incidents, per 200,000 hours worked, that result in lost work days, restricted work days (where the worker cannot perform his or her normal duties), or days in which the worker is transferred to alternative duties to accommodate the injury.

Anonymous said...

This incident is LANS "proprietary" information. Keep your traps shut!

Anonymous said...

"This incident is LANS "proprietary" information. Keep your traps shut!"

Meaningless Propaganda. Facts please.

Anonymous said...

"This incident is LANS "proprietary" information. Keep your traps shut!"

Since I don't work for LANS, I'll continue to speak, speculate, dig for information, make public what I find out, protect anonymous sources, and maybe even see if I can't pin a felony or two on somebody!

Anonymous said...

I heard today that LANS dug up the body of Hoffa at the CMRR site. And we all know those LANS bastards are hiding those alien bodies.

Wake up, people. Get some sort of feeble toe hold on reality.

Anonymous said...

Would you expect LANS to be any more forthcoming with details on this event than they were regarding former Deputy Director John Mitchell's classified material security infraction?

Anonymous said...

"...Since I don't work for LANS, I'll continue to speak, speculate, dig for information, make public what I find out, protect anonymous sources, and maybe even see if I can't pin a felony or two on somebody!.."

with friends like you.....

Anonymous said...

"..The responsible media will want to hear from at least two of you.."

Foreign intelligence services may pay well for this info, or perhaps the national enquirer, but why, pray tell, would anyone endanger their own livelyhood? Duh?

Anonymous said...

24 posts and no facts

Anonymous said...

A PADOPS report was issued to managers regarding this incident. Has anyone seen it?

Anonymous said...

Will this disrupt medical isotope deliveries?

Anonymous said...

So, did it happen or not?

Anonymous said...

6:00pm - at least I would believe the story if Mary suddenly discovered that she has a family and then left the lab.

Anonymous said...

6:00pm,

Who the fuck cares? If it did happen, LANS has succeeded in keeping the fearful staff silent, so we will never hear about it.

If it didn't happen, we still won't hear any official statement from LANS.

Anonymous said...

My TA-48 friend would not comment, which indicates something happened. It seems odd to think there would be a "no comment" if no spill happened.

Anonymous said...

Gus and Pinky have gone pretty quiet on this. Either 1) their sources have dried up, for whatever reason, 2) they've received info that nothing actually happened, but are too ashamed to post it, or 3) they've been gotten to. In any case, there is obviously no longer any intent to keep this on top. Bye, bye truth.

Anonymous said...

So Gus and Pinky, have you been gotten to?

Pinky and The Brain said...

Nobody has threatened me but someone claiming to be a whistleblower keeps asking me to meet him at Cheeks.

Pinky and The Brain said...

Just kidding!

Anonymous said...

PATB: that was one of the funniest things I've read on this blog in a long time...

Anonymous said...

But still no answer to the question...

Anonymous said...

NOt a spill. Had something to do with the ventilation KSL was working on.

Pinky and The Brain said...

9:42 PM,
The answer to your question:

1) The sources have not retracted their statements.

2) No one has sent me anything claiming the germanium event didn't happen.

3) Nobody has threatened me since this story broke.

Anonymous said...

Ventilation would make sense. The TA-48/RC-1 plumbing is completely hot, and there are many taped off hot spots in the basement where it leaked. Every time one section was repaired, it would jostle the rest and set off a bunch more leaks. The "RC" stood for radiochemistry, and there was decades of radioisotope work done there.

The building keeps teetering between nuclear facility categories, and only the use of loopholes, like rushing the isotopes through the hot cells, keeps it under the looser rules.

IIRC, the ductwork was also full of perchlorates, but that may have been cleaned up.

Caveat: my information is old, because thank goodness I don't work in that death-trap anymore.

Anonymous said...

Pinky, 10:13 pm: "Nobody has threatened me since this story broke."

Sorry, but no "story" has broken. Everyone (i.e., the public) is still in the dark about what happened. I assume you either know why that is, or have a pretty good idea, if you indeed have sources. Why all the secrecy?

If only a few know what happened, and therefore to reveal it would reveal them as the source, then say so. If there is just no substantial information, then state that too. Blogmeisters being unwilling to share information with the blog are just fundamentally hypocritical. I understand the concept of protecting sources, so if that's the reason for withholding what you know, then just say so, for Pete's sake. This whole thing is getting seriously stupid.

Pinky and The Brain said...

Everything we know about this TA-48 incident is here in the comments (except names).

Note that the latest incident at ORNL was 16 Jan. and was not reported to the public for 12 days.

Gussie Fink-Nottle said...

8:31pm,

Our sources have dried up. No one is willing to talk to the reporters we have steered them to, and no one has been willing to send us the group leader's email confirming the event.

Here is what I've been told:

The event was triggered by a hot cell air ventilation system designed to maintain negative pressure in the hot cells. Improper maintenance on the ventilation system's filters is suspected as the cause of the failure.

When the hot cell ventilation system failed, the cells went to positive pressure and CAM alarms went off in the hot cell area as well as in a "cold" hallway. The CAM filters tested positive for an isotope of germanium.

-Gus

Anonymous said...

So this is a legacy of Martin Aguilera's We-Don't-Need-No-Stinkin'-Maintenance" program under MCFOD stewardship?

Anonymous said...

So, for those who read this blog in other parts of the world, it sounds as though there was a failure in the ventilation system. The devices used to detect such a failure, including CAMs (continuous air monitors, I think is the nomenclature - others can please correct this if it is not the case) worked as designed. If anyone was physically injured is not clear, it appears.

Gussie Fink-Nottle said...

Ok,

Since I personally had a couple of people contact me to indicate that this incident represented large exposures to staff, and that the direct management chain was actively covering up certain aspects of the event, I'd like to know the following:

* Who got exposed; how much? And,
* Who is doing the covering up; what is being covered up?

A lack of acceptable, creditable answers will cause me to conclude what most of the reputable journalists have already decided: that one should give not much credence to wild claims that were made on an anonymous LANL blog.

-Gus

Sue Vorenberg said...

Hi Guys,
Just want to add my name as a media person willing to talk to anybody about this or other incidents at the lab.
My e-mail is svorenberg(at)sfnewmexican.com, phone is 986-3072.
Thanks,
-Sue Vorenberg
Santa Fe New Mexican

Pinky and The Brain said...

Thanks Sue!