More Than a Dozen New Mexico Workers Show Radiation Exposure

Global Security Newswire Staff
Feb. 27, 2014, 8:07 a.m.

Thir­teen per­son­nel at a New Mex­ico nuc­le­ar-waste site were found to have been ex­posed to heightened ra­di­ation after con­tam­in­ants es­caped in­to the air.

The signs showed up in bio­lo­gic­al ma­ter­i­als col­lec­ted from staffers on duty in sub­ter­ranean por­tions of the Waste Isol­a­tion Pi­lot Plant on Feb. 14, when an auto­mated sensor de­tec­ted air­borne ra­dio­act­ive particles in­side the New Mex­ico com­plex, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­ports. The in­cid­ent came 10 days after an equip­ment fire at the site, though a Wed­nes­day New York Times re­port sug­ges­ted the events were not re­lated.

No ex­tern­al in­dic­a­tions of con­tam­in­ants were dis­covered on work­ers on the day of the alert, AP re­por­ted. But bio­lo­gic­al samples were col­lec­ted and ini­tially tested to de­term­ine if work­ers had breathed in ra­dio­act­ive ma­ter­i­als.

“[Af­fected] em­ploy­ees, both fed­er­al and con­tract­or, will be asked to provide ad­di­tion­al samples in or­der to fully de­term­ine the ex­tent of any ex­pos­ure,” says a Wed­nes­day press re­lease from the U.S. En­ergy De­part­ment and the Nuc­le­ar Waste Part­ner­ship, the stor­age fa­cil­ity’s private op­er­at­or.

A Thursday af­ter­noon press con­fer­ence is ex­pec­ted at which En­ergy and con­tract­ing of­fi­cials are to ad­dress the mat­ter.

Over­seers have said air tests in­dic­ate that the air­borne con­tam­in­ants came from a broken waste tank, though an in-per­son as­sess­ment would be ne­ces­sary to identi­fy the rup­ture’s source, AP re­por­ted. A tank breach could have oc­curred if any site roof­ing had fallen in, or if a fork­lift had mis­takenly pierced a con­tain­er, Nuc­le­ar Waste Part­ner­ship head Farok Sharif said earli­er this week.

Ad­di­tion­al weeks may pass be­fore em­ploy­ees re-enter the fa­cil­ity’s be­low-ground stor­age area, the wire ser­vice quoted site ad­min­is­trat­ors as say­ing.

The En­ergy De­part­ment pre­vi­ously con­firmed that a quant­ity of ra­dio­act­ive con­tam­in­ants had also reached the site’s sur­face. However, Wed­nes­day’s Times re­port quoted fa­cil­ity staff and in­de­pend­ent ex­perts say­ing those amounts were min­im­al and rul­ing out any health im­pact for nearby res­id­ents. The waste fa­cil­ity is loc­ated less than 30 miles from the town of Carls­bad, N.M.

What We're Following See More »
#NEVERTRUMP’S LONELY LEADER
Romney Talks Cost of His Futile Anti-Trump Fight
10 minutes ago
THE LATEST

Mitt Romney spoke in an interview with the Wall Street Journal about his decision to challenge Donald Trump. “Friends warned me, ‘Don’t speak out, stay out of the fray,’ because criticizing Mr. Trump will only help him by giving him someone else to attack. They were right. I became his next target, and the incoming attacks have been constant and brutal.” Still, "I wanted my grandkids to see that I simply couldn’t ignore what Mr. Trump was saying and doing, which revealed a character and temperament unfit for the leader of the free world.”

Source:
CONGRESS DIVIDED ON DEBT CRISIS PLAN
Puerto Rico Relief Stalled on the Hill
55 minutes ago
THE LATEST

"A bill to help Puerto Rico handle its $70 billion debt crisis is facing an uncertain future in the Senate. No Senate Democrats have endorsed a bill backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, while some are actively fighting it. ... On the Republican side, senators say they’re hopeful to pass a bill but don’t know if they can support the current legislation — which is expected to win House approval given its backing from leaders in that chamber."

Source:
LAWMAKERS RECESS WITH NO PLAN IMMINENT
Congress Slow-walking Zika Legislation
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Congress abandoned the Capitol Thursday for an almost two-week break without addressing how to combat Zika, even as public health officials issue dire warnings about the spread of the mosquito-driven virus with summer approaching. ... Instead of racing to fund efforts to thwart a potential health crisis, lawmakers are treating the Zika debate like regular legislation, approving Thursday the establishment of a House-Senate committee to hammer out differences in their competing bills."

Source:
LITTLE MARCO FOR SENATE
Trump to Rubio: Run for Reelection
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump may have defeated Sen. Marco Rubio's presidential ambitions, but he wants the man he dubbed Little Marco to keep his job in the Senate. "Poll data shows that @marcorubio does by far the best in holding onto his Senate seat in Florida," Trump tweeted Thursday evening. "Important to keep the MAJORITY. Run Marco!" Trump is not the first to urge Rubio to run, though the senator has said such a move is unlikely. The filing deadline is June 24. 

Source:
FIRST SITTING POTUS TO VISIT
At Hiroshima, Obama Calls For Nuke-Free World
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

President Obama called for an end to nuclear weapons Friday during a somber visit to Hiroshima Peace Park in Japan, where the United States dropped the first atomic bomb 71 years ago. "That is the future we can choose,” Obama said. “A future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not for the bomb of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.”

Source:
×