By Sarah Matott POSTED: 01/22/2015
CARLSBAD >> Mining and Ground Control engineers discovered on Jan. 15 that a portion of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant ceiling in Panel 3 had fallen, officials said Wednesday.
The roof damage was found during a routine ground control and bulkhead inspection by the WIPP geotechnical staff and was estimated to be 8 feet long and 8 feet wide, with a thickness of 24 inches, WIPP officials said in a release.
"The roof had already fallen before the geotechnical staff found it," said Tim Runyon, WIPP recovery communications manager.
The fallen piece of ceiling was found in the Panel 3 access drift of the WIPP underground, an area that is already labeled as restricted due to low levels of radiation contamination in the area, the release said.
Runyon said that problems in the restricted areas of the underground were anticipated after geotechnical inspections in November.
According to the news release, during these inspections, seven areas in the underground were identified as restricted areas due to significant bolt loss. All bolting activities at WIPP were halted since the February 2014 incidents until this past November.
"This event highlights the need to continue prioritizing roof bolting and ground control in both the contaminated and uncontaminated areas of the WIPP underground facility in order to ensure safety and habitability in the underground," a WIPP news release said.
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