back to article Nuclear waste spill: How a pro-organic push sparked $240m blunder

There's a rather dry but absolutely fascinating document out from the US Department of Energy, which you can download in all its couple of hundred page glory here [PDF]. It's about the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad in New Mexico. This is where the Yanks send off all those barrels of radioactive nasties to …

  1. TRT Silver badge

    Why not organic kitty litter?

    Got to have something to do with all the newspapers and Weetabix byproducts...

    Actually, come to think of byproducts in food production... what DO they do with all the caffeine from decaffeinated coffee?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

      "Actually, come to think of byproducts in food production... what DO they do with all the caffeine from decaffeinated coffee?"

      Red Bull, the Marmite of the energy drink world!

    2. fajensen Silver badge

      Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

      Organic kitty litter will rot and become soil again eventually so one can dump the contents of the cat-tray in the compost or bury it; The in-organic stuff is basically clay which is dried and "popped" like pop-corn.

      This stuff just sits there, one cannot dump it, it has to go into the bin.

      There is I.O.W. no requirement for cat-shit to last forever - we want it to be GONE, hence the organic cat-litter is the better product.

      If one is covering cat litter with radioactive waste, then, probably, the ecological aspects are less relevant.

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

        Organic cat litter I get can be flushed down the loo, thus ensuring that the bin I have emptied fortnightly doesn't overflow with cat excrement.

        Not sure I'd recommend flushing for the nuclear waste, mind...

        1. Peter Galbavy

          Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

          Ditto. While my feline overlords used to poop in the house I used "chick crumb" which is both clumping and flushable. Convenient, cheap, turned into fertiliser at the sewage farm.

        2. PNGuinn
          Facepalm

          Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

          Not sure I'd recommend flushing that down the bog. In fact definitely NOT.

          Lots of marketing droids say their stuff is flushable. It helps sales to idiots ('most everyone out there) you know.

          "Got a blockage - your'e flushing it wrong." - Also works for fruity firms apparently.

          Talk to any sewer worker about blockages and what causes them. You have a system - usually 4 inch pipes - designed to cope with s**t + some small pieces of paper designed break up easily. You feed it a s**tload of lawncrapper s**t PLUS a tray of soggy, sticky (to a sewer) gubbins plus a mere 6 litres of water. Hmmm....

          Top tip - don't mention wet wipes, sanitary towels, food waste etc to a sewer worker if you don't want a colourful reply.

          And don't get me started on those so called disinfectant blocks that people clip onto the rim of the pan - presumabably to give little boys something to aim at. Accidently tip one of them in and flush and you have a blockage complete with anchor going down. Very effective (and expensive).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

            "It helps sales to idiots ('most everyone out there) you know."

            High opinion of your self I see. Do you really think most people are idiots. What is the threshold above which one becomes a person deserving respect in your eyes? I ask as it would give me something to aim for - rather like those disinfectant blocks you mentioned. Oh sorry, did I get you started? Do have a lie down.

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

          "Organic cat litter I get can be flushed down the loo"

          The local sewerage people absolutely HATE people who do that.

          Seriously, if you can put it in a bin then do so.

          1. Jan 0

            Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

            > "Organic cat litter I get can be flushed down the loo"

            > The local sewerage people absolutely HATE people who do that.

            > Seriously, if you can put it in a bin then do so.

            It seems that organic cat litter is equivalent to powerline ethernet. Just say no!

        4. Jan 0
          Mushroom

          Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

          JetSetJim typed > Organic cat litter I get can be flushed down the loo

          Can some cat* lover explain to us all why they don't fit pet karzies in their houses? Why not cut out the middleman^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hcat litter and go directly into the sewerage?

          *also apples to dog lovers. Why interpose a pavement beween the dog's arse and the drains?

          Flame, for obvious reasons.

        5. Stuart Moore

          Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

          A bigger issue with flushing cat poo and litter is that a parasite in it can survove the sewage treatment process and go on to harm pregnant women - see http://www.floppycats.com/cat-feces-flushing-a-bad-thing.html

      2. PNGuinn
        Mushroom

        Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

        I was under the impression that most soils were not 100% organic ......

        "There is I.O.W. no requirement for cat-shit to last forever - we want it to be GONE" - No, sensible people want to deal with the problem at source.

        1. Otto is a bear.

          Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

          Oh, I don't know responsible dog owners do and most cats prefer to bury their output in your petunias as a surprise for you later.

          Anyway soil based kitty litter, will break down in landfill, and helps landfill sites to generate gas for the grid. It just becomes biologically richer in the process, although perhaps not in the way the soil cycle usually works. Ask any geologist.

        2. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

          No, sensible people want to deal with the problem at source.

          What, with a cork? Ew!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

        "Organic kitty litter will rot..."

        And that's just the problem (along with most if not all bio-degradables), as while it does so it will be producing methane while happily rotting away in the land-fill...

        1. fajensen Silver badge

          Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

          So? Round these parts, they cover the landfill with a membrane, then one can suck out the methane from the landfill and mix it up with the natural gas - or burn it in a generator if there is a long-ish distance to the gas network.

      4. Dan Paul

        Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

        You don't want to use organic kitty litter if the only use for it on site is as a collection agent for spills in a chemical lab.

        Regular clay based cat litter is somewhat basic and would tend to neutralize and absorb weak acids and other chemicals or spills.

        Organic litter would react with the chemicals and likely offgas. Or decompose and and offgas.

        One would hope that animal testing labs would not use organic litter if they were doing anything radioactive. The animal excrement would be fairly radioactive as it tends to concentrate the testing substances.

      5. Marshalltown

        Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

        "...If one is covering cat litter with radioactive waste, then, probably, the ecological aspects are less relevant...."

        Ah, that would actually be "different" ecological aspects BECOME relevant.

    3. TeeCee Gold badge
      Alert

      Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

      Presumably somewhere there's an enormous mountain made of billions of tons of lard, caused by the trend for low-fat food products....

      Hmmm. I wonder if you can ski on lard.

      1. plrndl

        Re: billions of tons of lard

        It's called "America".

        1. h4rm0ny
          Facepalm

          Re: billions of tons of lard

          So basically I just read a two-page rant by Worstall about "hippies" (which appears to mean anyone who buys organic to Worstall) and how they are in some vague but implied way responsible for someone in the US not knowing how to do their job -- all because Worstall doesn't know that organic cat litter actually has a convenient purpose to it and wants to blame a nuclear accident on a "pro-organic push".

          I really should learn to check the author before reading in future.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: billions of tons of lard

            just because some marketing w*nker put's organic on the packet, does not mean it's better either at the job it's supposed to do, or for the enviroment!

            Damn eco-nutters, will happily fuck everything up through being stupid, as they believe they are saving the fucking planet. (planets do not need saving, it's a huge ball of fucking elements orbiting a star!)

            1. h4rm0ny

              Re: billions of tons of lard

              >>"just because some marketing w*nker put's organic on the packet, does not mean it's better either at the job it's supposed to do, or for the enviroment!"

              Organic cat litter is organic material such as pine chips and decomposes. Inorganic cat litter is typically clay and does not. Worstall basically went on wild goose chase because he apparently doesn't own a cat and can't use Wikipedia. Or even ask a friend who does own a cat!

              And you have taken up his ignorance and run with it.

      2. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Hmmm. I wonder if you can ski on lard

        Probably, but you can't hold a candle to it.

        I'll get my coat....

    4. WonkoTheSane
      Headmaster

      Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

      AC is correct. The caffeine from decaf is sold for many megabux to energy drink / cola manufacturers.

      This means that decaf is actually a WASTE product!

      1. Spleen

        Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

        Re Wonko The Sane: Aren't energy drinks the waste product?

      2. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

        Re: Why not organic kitty litter? @WonkoTheSane

        "AC is correct. The caffeine from decaf is sold for many megabux to energy drink / cola manufacturers."

        Also to BigPharma for their cold and flu products and Squaddie candy.... I mean ProPlus.

      3. Fungus Bob Silver badge

        Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

        "This means that decaf is actually a WASTE product!"

        Certainly tastes like it...

    5. launcap Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

      > Got to have something to do with all the newspapers and Weetabix byproducts...

      Ours is compressed wood pellets - once the (ahem) solids are sieved out, the remainder can go into the compost heap where it makes a quite nice accellerator..

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

      It's easy to bash "organic", the real problem was ignorance.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

        It's easy to bash "organic", the real problem was ignorance.

        Ignorance is, by its nature, an organic trait, though.

    7. hopkinse

      Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

      Organic kitty litter of the compressed wood pellet sawdust variety also absorbs the smell much better than the inorganic. I had 5 young cats at one time so did a fair bit of research on this metter :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why not organic kitty litter?

        get yer nose fixed, your talking rot!

    8. tony2heads

      @TRT

      caffeine goes into headache tablets

      https://www.headaches.org/educational_modules/caffeine/fast.html

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fast Integral Reactor.

      'Stop burying nuclear material'

      I'm quite suprised no-one has thought of storing nuclear waste on the moon. Let's hope that such a strategy wouldn't cause the accumulated waste to eventually reach critical mass and cause a massive thermonuclear explosion, which would act like a giant rocket, pinging the moon out into space. If this were to ever happen, I'm sure the inhabitants of the first moonbase (let's call it 'alpha' for the sake of argument) would have approximately 2 seasons worth of adventures, while they ride the moon through outer space.

      1. graeme leggett

        Re: Fast Integral Reactor.

        I've cancelled overflights of the Salado Formation in my light aircraft 'Eagle' just in case.

        1. Otto is a bear.

          Re: Fast Integral Reactor.

          It could be man's way to the starts, after all, it must have been going at one hell of a speed for them to have all those adventures. I wonder how much energy you would need, and for that matter, an older and wiser me wonders why the inhabitants didn't end up as amusing smears on the floor when the moon accelerated.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Fast Integral Reactor.

            Time dilation effects. For them it seemed like they were adventuring for a whole two seasons but to Earth observers they were actually flattened to a smear across a sheet of celluloid.

          2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

            Re: Fast Integral Reactor. @otto

            As a story-teller and realiser on the small screen, Gerry Anderson was pretty good. As a scientist, not so hot.

            There were plenty of plot holes. Like why was the moon able to avoid being captured by the stars/planets it passed close to. And where did they get their energy, especially in a form suitable for the Eagles. And how about the seemingly unending supply of Eagles when they were destroyed. And how come they could cross interstellar space so fast, but still slow enough to allow planetary exploration missions. And why the moon was not torn apart by tidal forces when it passed within the Roche limit to planets and even the black hole it went through. And how come so many Earth spaceships found the moon. And how they managed to get enough Sinclair Pocket TVs to make their communicators 10 years after most of them had broken.

            And, to cap it all, why was there so little furniture in the Control Centre that everybody had to stand around, punching buttons on the walls!

            Still, the first season was a good romp, although I thought widening the plot in the second season to include metamorpths and the like was going a bit too far.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

              1. Diogenes

                Re: Fast Integral Reactor. @otto

                "the second season to include metamorphs" She was quite hot though. In human form, I mean! And even better as Lady Claudine Litton in 'The Return of the Pink Panther'.

                sigh

              2. TeeCee Gold badge
                Coat

                Re: Fast Integral Reactor. @otto

                There's three words for that: Guardian of Piri.

                Every Space 1999 aficionado knows this one.

            2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

              Re: Fast Integral Reactor. @otto

              As a story-teller and realiser on the small screen, Gerry Anderson was pretty good. As a scientist, not so hot.

              It's Space:1999! Gerry doesn't have to explain shit!

            3. MrDamage

              @Peter G

              The genre contains 2 words. The first is science. The second is FICTION.

              If you cannot understand that, I suggest you go sit at Gene Roddenberry's grave, break out your ouiji board, and explain to him how he was wrong as well.

              1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

                @MrDamage

                And the first, as you pointed out, is Science.

                There was lots of bad science in all of the Gerry Anderson works, and they were all set in the near future, so they could not really play the radical new technology card.

                Dose it detract from the tremendous stories, strong characters (even though most were plastic or plasticine), or the fantastic achievements of AP Films and Century 21 Productions in the field of special effects? No it doesn't.

                I am a huge fan of all of Gerry Anderson's work (well, Dick Spanner was a bit strange, and Terrahawks was below par IMHO), but that never stopped me cringing sometimes at the "Science", even when I was a child (My formative years were during the original runs of the "classics'" in the 1960's and 70's; I am of the Century 21 Productions generation, and am almost exactly the same age as Joe 90 would be).

                (P.S. Answer me this. Why do Thunderbird 1 and 2 come to a dead-stop in the air, and only fire their landing jets when they want to decend?)

      2. Meerkatjie

        Re: Fast Integral Reactor.

        If we did store radioactives on the moon we would likely stick it on the far side (don't want our pretty moonscapes ruined by unsightly piles of waste) so if it did go boom it would push the moon at us rather than space. Nice bit of karma there.

      3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Fast Integral Reactor. @Hadvar

        That's so 1999!

      4. x 7

        Re: Fast Integral Reactor.

        Nuclear waste?

        Just lob it into the sun on a rocket

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Fast Integral Reactor.

          Nuclear waste?

          Just lob it into the sun on a rocket

          Project "Saucerful of Secrets"?

      5. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

        Re: Fast Integral Reactor.

        I'm quite suprised no-one has thought of storing nuclear waste on the moon.

        That didn't work out so well in 'Space 1999'.

      6. streaky Silver badge

        Re: Fast Integral Reactor.

        Moon/Sun. Never sure if people are seriously when they suggest stuff like this but on the offchance I always like to point out what happens when rockets go bang in the atmosphere. Doubt many Floridians would like highly reactive waste raining doing on their houses and half the Atlantic coast.

        Also deep borehole disposal is the only way forwards.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Fast Integral Reactor.

          Moon/Sun. Never sure if people are seriously when they suggest stuff like this but on the offchance I always like to point out what happens when rockets go bang in the atmosphere. Doubt many Floridians would like highly reactive waste raining doing on their houses and half the Atlantic coast.

          The real reason for not doing it is economics. The spent waste is dense and the shielding just as bad. At the price per pound to launch, it's just too expensive.

      7. bpfh Bronze badge
        Coat

        Re: Fast Integral Reactor.

        And the follow up question: did the season 2 cat woman use the bathroom or the litter box?

    2. John Sager

      Re: Fast Integral Reactor.

      @Symon: The reason it's buried is political, not technical. If the Eco-loons & disarmers (including Monbiot AFAIR) didn't complain so much about reprocessing, then it would get recycled into new nuclear reactors. But there aren't any of those due to said Eco-loons. You still need a repository as the recycling isn't 100% efficient and there is always low level radioactive stuff that it isn't practical or economic to make safe. Even the high-level activity stuff out of the reprocessing plant can be cycled through certain designs of reactor to make it safer.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Hans 1 Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Fast Integral Reactor.

        >You still need a repository as the recycling isn't 100% efficient and there is always low level radioactive stuff that it isn't practical or economic to make safe.

        You still need a repository as the recycling leaves 99% of waste, most of which is low level radioactive stuff that it isn't practical or economic to make safe.

        There, fixed it.

  3. frank ly Silver badge

    Three points

    1: "And organic stuff is made from grains: possibly the chaff from wheat or corn."

    Was the wheat/corn grown on a certified organic farm?

    2: The idea of mixing oxidising chemicals with carbohydrates is a good one, if you want a strong exothermic reaction.

    3: For something as important as this, they didn't have a proper specification of materials? It just said "mix it with some cat-litter." ?

    1. launcap Silver badge

      Re: Three points

      > they didn't have a proper specification of materials? It just said "mix it with some cat-litter." ?

      Specification was presumably read from a marketing handout..

    2. 404 Silver badge

      Re: Three points

      Point 3: Feds are very big on material data safety sheets - OSHA will fine a private company into oblivion for violations of this type.

      That's one huge blind spot/ failure.

  4. boba1l0s2k9

    Subsidies

    ...are a good bet. Same reason the petrol has 10% ethanol even after it was demonstrated that the total process required to get the ethanol into the petrol resulted in more emissions than just using straight petrol. Hippies are another reasonable bet -- anything labeled organic sounds better to a hippy.

    1. Salamander

      Re: Subsidies

      So that explains why organic sea salt is a thing.

      I nearly fell over when I saw that on the self.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Subsidies

        At that price I'd have a fit too if it didn't come in a packet.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Subsidies

        Organic stuff needs to e transported faster as it spoils faster, requiring more fossil fuels to be burned.

        Actually, the main burning happens in the car driven by punters to the big food logistic centers known as "malls" and back to their conapts.

        Additionally, experiments in my fridge consistently show that standard pepperonis and chilis decay *way* before organic pepperonis and chilis and the organic ones look better to boot. I don't know why, but there you go.

  5. Arthur the cat Silver badge
    Mushroom

    "we don't think anything's going to happen there for a few tens of millions of year"

    By that criterion I can think of places in Norfolk that would be ideal dump sites.

  6. PyLETS
    Mushroom

    Found in a piggery near me

    Rumour has it that the escaping nuclear waste got mixed up with some genetically modified maize which was reused in commercial pig feed, and the pigkeeper is now breeding a new strain of mutant pigs which are sprouting wings and getting ready for take off. On somewhat better authority, Jeremy Clarkson is considering reducing his carbon footprint.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Tim Worstal

      Diesel works better.....although it's slightly tricky to get it well mixed without having it go off a bit early. As a number of now limbless people found out.

      1. dogged

        Bear in mind you can be arrested if you use red diesel.

        1. keith_w
          Thumb Up

          I am pretty sure that unless you licensed to blast, you will be arrested anytime you make ANFO, no matter what colour diesel you use.

        2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
          Coat

          Bear in mind you can be arrested if you use red diesel.

          Only if it's in car bombs, though.

          1. dogged

            > Only if it's in car bombs, though.

            That's true, tractor bombs are fine.

      2. Dan Paul

        It's the same thing (Diesel vs Fuel Oil)

        There are only different grades that are either lighter or darker colored oil. Also same as kerosene or JP4.

        If mixed in the right proportions ANFO (ammonium nitrate and fuel oil) requires another explosive like a blasting cap to set it off. They mine with it all the time, its VERY stable.

        You could try to light it with a match and it will just burn like C4. Ask Lewis, he will back that up.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Aluminium powder or Nitrobenzene works much better than Kerosene - And, since I like my liver without tumours; I would go for aluminium. Still use a mask - aluminium dust will mess the lungs up good.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        And your brain. Alzheimer's anyone?

      2. Dan Paul

        Something entirely different

        Now you get into something that increases the mechanical or electrical shock sensitivity by adding metal powders to an oxidizer.

        The comment about nitrobezene would also make it more hazardous. No need to do that. ANFO moves mountains all by itself.

        Ammonium Nitrate is a strong oxidizer and the carbon in fuel oil is a great fuel. Add some 8th grade chemistry equations and you can figure out how that or other chemical work with Ammonium Nitrate.

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: Something entirely different

          Wood flour would help; many years ago I worked on an old Edwardian house in Islington, doing a restoration from bedsits back to a single house.

          Part of the job was to sand all the painted floors and then treat them with Danish oil.

          A 4 story house has a lot of floor area and that produced a lot of wood flour mixed with the paint dust from the paint that was on the floors; my mate decide to get rid of the large black bag of wood flour from the drum sander by chucking it onto the bonfire we had going in the back garden, as he threw the bag on to the fire it split and the ensuing cloud of dust literally went up in a mushroom cloud. My mate? No eyebrows, moustache, half his hair gone, the hair on his arms and a singed teeshirt. Me? looking out of the upstairs window laughing fit to bust.

          I know! I'm a bastard !

          1. Jan 0
            Mushroom

            Re: Wood Flour explosions

            Oh noes! Now we'll all be arrested for carrying plans for making fuel/air exposives in our brains.

            With a little more carelessness you could have blown up the house in the same way that many flour mills have been self demolished.

    3. Nigel 11

      Ammonium Nitrate _is_ fertiliser. You make a better bomb if you add some kerosene. At least, so I've heard. ANFO.

      AFAIK this is the only time a terrorist organisation (anyone know which one? ) contributed something useful to the body of knowledge used by civilisation.

      Mining used to employ high explosive (Dynamite, TNT, etc.) which is expensive and non-trivial to store and in some cases toxic to handle. Open-cast mining has now adopted ANFO - cheaper, non-toxic, and manufactured down the hole where you want the explosion. Nitrate fertilizer first, then add fuel oil, then top with a detonator.

      BTW Ammonium Nitrate is also an explosive on its own. You do have to hit it very hard before it goes bang, but if you manage to do so, watch out. One of the largest non-nuclear explosions ever was in the Netherlands when the roof of a warehouse full of Ammonium Nitrate leaked, and the entire contents set solid. Someone had the bad idea of loosening it up with a few sticks of dynamite. He did not survive the several-kiloton non-nuclear explosion which resulted.

      1. Tim Worstal

        There was an entire ship full of it that went off once as well I think.

        1. x 7

          "There was an entire ship full of it that went off once as well I think."

          The Grandcamp, in dock at Texas City, 1947

          2600 tonnes of Ammonium nitrate, plus other chemicals exploded

          500+ dead

          Many other serious explosions as well -see the list at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammonium_nitrate_disasters

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've been told, around the early/mid 1980's that on one of the main roads from ROI to the North was a large billbaord advertising fission fertiliser and some wag has painted on it the imortal words "recommended by the IRA".

  8. Tom Maddox Silver badge

    Organic cat litter

    The rationale I was given for using "organic" (i.e., grain- or wood-based) cat litter is that the desiccants in cat latter are bad for both your cat and you, especially if you live in a smaller residence. This may just be marketing guff, however. On the other hand, it is demonstrably true that the higher-end cat litters last longer and don't get tracked around the house in the same way.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Organic cat litter

      Actually, I use a few sheets from The Daily Mail. Thankfully the cat can't read, so shouldn't suffer any ill effects. Though it does keep attacking one particular postman who just happens to be a union member.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Organic cat litter

        Remember to wear gloves when you handle it. It can harbour a brain parasite which affects your behaviour - in tests it caused lab rats to start saying "and another thing about immigrants ...

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Organic cat litter

      " the desiccants in cat latter are bad for both your cat and you"

      This is true of some varieties of diatomaceous earth - make sure you buy _un_calcinated stuff - aka food grade - as the dust from heat-treated version can damage mucous membranes (silicosis)

      For the usual Fuller's Earth litter (attapulgite clay) it's mainly down to dust hazards (silicosis), but it's generally so coarse that's not an issue.

      In both cases: You'd have to breath a _lot_ of the dust for it to be an issue.

      For clumping litters: It may be a problem if kitty eats it - in which case you should use something else.

      By the way, it's a good idea to keep a big bag of the clay-based stuff in the boot of your car if you drive in snow or encounter muddy conditions. It's cheaper than a bag of pea-gravel, environmentally benign and tossing a bunch of it under the tyres often gives enough traction to get unstuck if you have wheelspin issues whilst stationary.

    3. streaky Silver badge

      Re: Organic cat litter

      that the desiccants in cat latter are bad for both your cat and you

      That and it all contains silicon dioxide which as well as being carcinogenic (i.e. it causes cancer) it's generally pretty nasty for your lungs (silicosis). Might not be too bad for crazy cat lady but it's potentially pretty nasty for the people who have to work with it (occupationally, as in, make it), I did once have to work with it in it's pure form and you have to take a lot of precautions.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Organic cat litter

        silicon dioxide which as well as being carcinogenic

        It's sand, eejit. Do you smoke it or something?

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Organic cat litter

          Yes it's sand. But the dust, if inhaled in sufficient quantity or over a sufficiently long time (think sandblasting or maybe some kinds of pottery work or maybe even working in a cat litter factory before the issue was understood properly...) does cause silicosis and the consensus is it also increases the risk of some cancers.

  9. herman Silver badge

    Glow in the dark cat poop

    The real question is how many other drums are filled with the wrong dirt and who is going to open them all to take a look?

  10. x 7

    But won't the cat shit mutate when its irradiated?

    What a theme for a new sci-fi film - Mutant Ninja Hero Catshit

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Teenage Mutant Ninja Turdpiles

  11. Arkhanist

    I use the mineral-based litter myself, but a bag full of that stuff is seriously heavy - given it's basically ground up clay, not surprising. Plus there's a fair amount of dust when you have to empty and clean the whole tray (the clumps are still quite crumbly and leave contaminated bits behind, as well as bits that weld themselves to the tray when they absorb uhh, liquid). So if you're an old lady with a bad back and/or asthma, the organic stuff is a bit easier to deal with. I'm pretty sure old ladies with a lot of cats is a large enough market segment to be worth targeting, aside from the hippies.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      I use the mineral-based litter myself,

      I buy it for the cat to use...

  12. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Kitty Litter

    Seeing as this has degenerated into cats: Check out "Citi Kitty". Less mess, less fuss.

    One of my moggies started using the monkey toilet unprompted after she decided the feline one wasn't being cleaned often enough....

    There are a bunch of selfcleaning litterbowls available, including a couple which are plumbed in. I have no idea how well they'd work for "nuclear waste", or whether the results could be fed to a LFTR

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Kitty Litter

      One of my moggies started using the monkey toilet

      There are risks associated with that. A colleague once followed the sound of plaintive meows to find the cat spreadeagled in the toilet bowl. With 4 paws down it was stable, but as soon as it lifted one to try and get out, the others started sliding towards the water...

  13. MrXavia

    Why organic kitty litter?? Why do we have kitty litter?

    Cats are outdoor creatures, keeping them inside is cruel,

    My parents have a cat, it roams outside, its got into fights and its got chunks out of its ears.. does it use kitty litter? no it goes in nature like it should...

    1. Tom Maddox Silver badge

      Re: Why organic kitty litter?? Why do we have kitty litter?

      That's nice if you live in the countryside. For those of us who are city dwellers, the hazards posed by cars, feral humans, jumbo pigeons, and other urban hazards are a significant deterrent to letting the cats out.

      1. MrXavia

        Re: Why organic kitty litter?? Why do we have kitty litter?

        If your a city dweller then don't have a cat..... maybe get a dog instead? they are a much more city friendly pet... well assuming you don't mind picking up dog poop..

  14. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    Waste of Time on a Wednesday...

    What a pointless article as TW again takes a trivial issue (not the nuclear spill, the organic kitty litter) and builds a mountain out of a molehill so he can have a go at lefties and hippies and organic products and anyone else who doesn't fit in with his idea of how the world should be run.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Waste of Time on a Wednesday...

      Differently abled are always good targets for politically incorrect jokes.

      Do you want polonium with that?

  15. ecofeco Silver badge

    Might have been just typo

    Some news sources were reporting yesterday that it may have just been a typo in the re-written regs.

  16. david 12 Bronze badge

    Inorganic

    For those, like Worstall, who haven't read the report, they are attributing the accident to a transcription error.. Not "someone there who apparently preferentially purchases organically".

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: Inorganic

      But it's a journalist's job to hypothesize wildly to support their world view, not check or wait for facts.

  17. David Roberts Silver badge
    Coat

    Word creep?

    A lot of people seem to be treating the term "organic" as a food marketing term instead of meaning "(derived from) something living".

    Which seems to be one of the significant differences between rare earths (umm...apart from anything diatomaceous...) and stuff derived from recently dead trees.

    Still, you are all having such a gay time of it it is probably churlish to point this out.

  18. x 7

    Reading the report indicates that whoever filled the drum showed a fundamental lack of basic chemical knowledge.

    Your don't -ever- store nitric acid (whether as acid or neutralised) on or in anything carbon based. In this case they had a mix of nitric acid and acid salts, neutralised with triethanolamine, in PVC bags, with an adsorbent layer of ground dessicated wheat husks.

    So many things to go wrong, but the obvious is the risk of producing nitrocellulose = bang

  19. skeptical i
    Devil

    Interesting conundrum for the kitty litter PR firm.

    I don't suppose the report mentioned the brand, huh. Missed opportunity, that.

    "Unless your cat does this [* cue visual: mushroom cloud *], you can use this [* cue visual: product beauty shot *]"

    No such thing as bad publicity.

  20. x 7

    "I don't suppose the report mentioned the brand"

    Actually, it did

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