recommended reading

Cat Litter's Role in Nuclear Leak Still Unproven

Africa Studio/

Laboratories failed to replicate a cat-litter reaction hypothesized to have ruptured a storage drum in an underground nuclear-waste dump, Reuters reports.

Neither Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico nor any of the nation's other atomic research centers have produced the type of thermal reaction tentatively blamed for a February contamination release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Energy Department spokeswoman Lindsey Geisler said on Friday. The breach was theoretically caused by a cat-litter and nitrate-salt packing mix placed in hundreds of waste barrels at the Los Alamos facility.

"There’s still a lot we don’t know," Geisler said. The waste complex near Carlsbad has remained largely off-limits since the release spread radioactive particles to 22 workers earlier this year.

The Energy Department is examining possible alternative methods of dealing with materials previously scheduled for shipment to the repository, Geisler added.

Fully resuming operations at the subterranean storage site may require up to 36 months, according to oversight officials. A lengthy recovery period would raise questions over how to handle waste containers previously slated for shipment to the facility from Los Alamos, Idaho National Laboratory and other locations, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, the possibility of a contamination threat from problematic waste drums has focused new attention on a legal action against New Mexico's state government, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported on Friday. The Southwest Research and Information Center's 2-year-old lawsuit challenges New Mexico's decision to permit use of a new type of waste container without first consulting the public.

State environment personnel stood by their actions in court last week, according to the New Mexican.

(Image via Africa Studio/

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.