Charles Loftus was the second rebuttal witness for
Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping (CARD)

Mr. Loftus worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for many years. In 1986, Mr. Loftus transferred to Quality Assurance at WIPP. He was the Acting Project Engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the WIPP site. His area of responsibility included the Waste Handling Building and the Filter Building.


The WIPP site was originally designed to handle leaking or corroded barrels. In 1987, because of the many design and safety problems, the DOE decided instead of correcting the problems, not to use the site as designed. For example, it was decided that the leaking and contaminated barrels would be handled at the generator sites so the DOE would not have to use the hot cell. In fact the WIPP site has so many problems it should never be used for anything. It is possible that bad drums could be put into the TRUPACT shipping containers and unknowingly be brought to the WIPP site.

The first nuclear floor coating for the Waste Handling Building (WHB) had a mirror finish. This seemed too slick for the work to be done in the building, so the floor was re-coated with a nipple effect for less slippage. Since then the DOE has been advised to use a "carpet" over the spills to suck up the contamination. The nipples were found to be too rough for the carpet clean up, so the floor was overlaid again with another layer. Finally, a fourth coat was applied. If the DOE did a pool test like Mr. Loftus had done, the DOE would have found the final 2 coats separated from the first 2 coats. There will also be cracks in the coating where the heavy objects are located. If the DOE does the pool tests and the floors fail, the DOE should remove the coatings all the way down to the concrete and put down a new coat of floor coating.

AIRLOCKS IN THE Waste Handling Building (WHB)
In 1986 the DOE knew the airlocks were too small to get the trucks in and keep the negative pressure inside the Waste Handling Building. Rather than knocking the airlocks down and building one large airlock, as it was designed, parallel to the building for the TRUPACT, the DOE have gone with the TRUDOCK system and forklifts.

Mr. Loftus is still not convinced of the sturdiness of the TRUPACT if it is dropped. There is now very little room on the top and bottom of the TRUPACT when it is unloaded with the forklift.

In 1987 the DOE said the WIPP site was safe and ready. But the DOE and WID had identified 135 items were needed to complete the project that were not in the plans. The Army Corps of Engineers tried to get more money from Congress to fix all these problems, but the Congress said no with instructions to finish WIPP as planned.

There are more than 200 filters in the Filter Room of the Filter Building. If the filters get contaminated, a worker has to go into the contaminated area to remove the contaminated filters and put new ones in. The new filters will already be contaminated. The procedure should be that the workers first remove the filters, decontaminate the area, and then put in the new filters. It is possible to use a portable decontamination chamber and to do one room at a time. These filters are HEPA filters and have to be changed by hand, one at a time.

First the DOE designed steel doors for the panel closure system. Then they designed salt blocks, and then concrete blocks and grout. What is needed is a closure that will creep with the salt in all directions. When there is a roof fall, the pressure could be great enough to fracture the panel closures while the workers are still in the WIPP mine. For the concrete blocks and grout design, the movement of the salt will probably move the grout. The panel closure system has never been tested and it should be before the lives of any of the workers are endangered.

There should be a 5-year test on all possible combinations of the wastes in the WIPP site. This is what the DOE did with some of the original "closing" barrels. If there is a roof fall that crushes the barrels, all kinds of waste will be mixed together. A test should be required to see what will happen when that mixing of all of the waste types takes place.

There is no airlock to accommodate rail shipments because rail shipments are not expected to occur.

Usually when a surface is coated with the nuclear coating paint, it is before the hardware and equipment is installed. But since the hardware and equipment was already installed in the Waste Handling Building, the DOE just coated over everything. There is raw material beneath the hardware because the workers were told to finish the job quickly.

The Army Corps of Engineers signed off when the WIPP site was completed, but left the DOE with a list of 135 items that needed to be changed. Some of the items were minor, but many were major problems. Some were fixed, but the rest Mr. Loftus described in his rebuttal testimony. The problems were not fixed because there was neither money nor time to fix everything, so the DOE figured out a way to use the WIPP site "as-is."

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