A typo and a bag of organic kitty litter may end up costing United States taxpayers more than $2 billion in nuclear waste cleanup, according to a new report by Ralph Vartabedian at the Los Angeles Times.
Back in February 2014, a drum of nuclear waste burst open inside the cavernous Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP), which is drilled out of a salt deposit nearly half a mile below the deserts of Carlsbad, New Mexico.
The US Department of Energy (DOE), which funds the company that runs the nuclear waste dump, quickly suspended operations and launched an investigation to figure out the cause.
drum 68660 wipp doe labeled Drum 68660, which burst in WIPP nuclear waste dump. DOE/WIPP
In their 277-page report, investigators determined the blast vaporized nearly 7.5 lbs of the material inside a single barrel, labeled "Drum 68660." That material included some radioactive isotopes of americium, plutonium, and uranium — byproducts of Cold War-era nuclear weapons production.