MISSION: Southwest Research and Information Center is a multi-cultural organization working to promote the health of people and communities, protect natural resources, ensure citizen participation, and secure environmental and social justice now and for future generations

Letter to DOE
concerns about WIPP Waste Truck accident

August 29, 2002

InÚs Triay
U.S. Department of Energy
PO Box 3090
Carlsbad, NM 88221-3090

VIA FAX (505) 234-7027

Dear Dr. Triay:

I appreciate our telephone discussion about the situation regarding the TRUPACT-II that was sent back to the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) yesterday.

Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC) agrees with your decision not to unload the TRUPACT-II at WIPP and to return the shipment. SRIC also strongly believes that much more information is needed to determine many things, including how much contamination is in the inner containment vessel (ICV), whether there was a problem in how the drums were prepared or loaded into the ICV at INEEL, whether the accident before the shipment arrived at WIPP contributed to the situation. It is very important that complete information be provided to the public, as more is known about what happened and what may have contributed to this incident.

However, as we discussed, SRIC also believes that shipments should be suspended from INEEL to WIPP until it can be demonstrated that INEEL adequately prepared and loaded the shipment. If there were problems with INEEL's practices, they should be identified and corrected before any further shipments are made to WIPP. INEEL's full attention, facilities, technical and management resources should be focused on dealing with the returned shipment.

While SRIC does not know that there were problems with INEEL's procedures, the series of past incidents at that site increases our concern. Just as shipments from INEEL were suspended in 2001 until the adequacy of their procedures could be confirmed, SRIC urges you to suspend shipments while the current situation is fully investigated and the findings made public.

Thank you very much for your consideration.


Don Hancock

For further information contact us at sricdon@earthlink.net or call (505) 262-1862, fax: (505) 262-1864.


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