Here's a question from one of the latest comments:
Frank, I've worked at TA-55 for 7 years and I don't recall this incident.It is possible the leak(s) happened even before you came to TA-55, I only know it was before 1 April 2002. Also remember this room is an electrical substation on the lower level. Very few people would have any reason to ever enter it.
One clue that I have found is in LA-UR-02-1673:
If anyone could tell me what happened in PF-4 on 29 and 30 March 2001 I would love to hear about it.3.0 Preparations
3.1 Batch Feed
High-Radioactivity Influent: RLWTF influent typically has concentrations ranging from 50- 150 nCi/L gross alpha. However, a slug of influent with a concentration of nearly 1100 nCi/L gross alpha was received on 29 and 30 March 2001. Rightfully concerned about the plant’s ability to process influent with an order of magnitude more radioactivity than normal, plant personnel were successful in side-streaming about 19,000 gallons of this influent.
Discussions about how to treat these waters led to the idea of processing it through the RLWTF as a batch. MTP unit operations would be sampled as was done during the plant test of May 2000 to acquire a supplemental set of performance data. One large and exciting difference, however, was the radioactive concentration. Plant Test 2000 used influent with a low gross alpha concentration of 33 nCi/L. The side-streamed influent would provide a test at the other extreme, and would thus provide complementary, as well as supplemental, data about plant performance.
This document also gives a fairly detailed description of what is typically in the waste that travels through the pipes that leaked. This is from Section 6.6 Radioactive Parameters:
The next six columns in Table 6-11 then present alpha activity for six isotopes. These columns reveal that 238Pu contributed about three-fourths of the alpha radioactivity in clarifier influent; that 239Pu and 241Am contributed about one-fourth of the alpha radioactivity; and that the three uranium isotopes contributed just one percent.Perhaps the most interesting thing about LA-UR-02-1673 is that when I found it and forwarded it to the DOE Inspector General's office it was removed from LANL's web site. I had a formal complaint open with the IG's office at the time. I also did one of my first blog posts about it.