Radioactive Dump That Burned in Nevada Had Past Troubles via The New York Times

Nevada now has ownership and oversight of the property, which opened in 1962 near Beatty as the nation’s first federally licensed low-level radioactive waste dump and closed in 1992. State officials said this week they didn’t immediately know what blew up.

A soundless 40-second video turned over by US Ecology to state officials showed bursts of white smoke and dirt flying from several explosions on Oct. 18 from the dump in the brown desert about 110 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

A state fire inspector, Martin Azevedo, surveyed the site on Wednesday.

His report, obtained Friday by The Associated Press, described moisture in the pit and “heavily corroded” 55-gallon drums in and around the 20-foot-by-30-foot crater. Debris from the blast spread 190 feet. Two drums were found outside the fence line.

Jon Bakkedahl, state radiation control supervisor, said previously the material that exploded was probably buried in the mid-1970s.

Federal records say 4.7 million cubic feet of materials was buried before the 40-acre waste site closed. Officials say there are 22 trenches up to 100 feet deep and 800 feet long, with pits capped by up to 10 feet of clay and dirt.

The permit was for low-level solid radioactive waste, including contaminated tools, protective clothing, machine parts, medical items and laboratory supplies.


Former Nevada Gov. Robert List ordered the Beatty low-level waste facility shut down in 1979 and launched a probe after a radioactive cargo fire on a truck parked on U.S. Highway 95 at the facility gate.

The fire came three years after employees were dismissed for pilfering radioactive building materials, tools and even a portable cement mixer, according to a 1994 report prepared by the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory.

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