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.
REBUTTAL TESTIMONY OF CHARLES LOFTUS March 25, 1999.
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
FLOOR COATING IN THE WASTE HANDLING BUILDING (WHB)
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.
PANEL CLOSURE SYSTEMS
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.
POOR CHARACTERIZATION OF WASTE MIXTURES
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.
HIGHLIGHTS OF CROSS EXAMINATION OF MR. LOFTUS
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."