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 »
How Many Jobs Would Be Lost Under Bernie Sanders’s Single-Payer System?
4 hours ago

More than 11 million, according to Manhattan Institute fellow Yevgeniy Feyman, writing in RealClearPolicy.

State to Release 550 More Clinton Emails on Saturday
5 hours ago

Under pressure from a judge, the State Department will release about 550 of Hillary Clinton’s emails—“roughly 14 percent of the 3,700 remaining Clinton emails—on Saturday, in the middle of the Presidents Day holiday weekend.” All of the emails were supposed to have been released last month. Related: State subpoenaed the Clinton Foundation last year, which brings the total number of current Clinton investigations to four, says the Daily Caller.

Jim Webb Rules Out Independent Bid
5 hours ago

UPDATED: Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) will not be playing the role of Ralph Nader in this year’s election. Speaking in Dallas today, Webb said, “We looked at the possibility of an independent candidacy. Theoretically, it could be done, but it is enormously costly and time sensitive, and I don’t see the fundraising trajectory where we could make a realistic run.”

RNC Chief Would Welcome Bloomberg
5 hours ago

“The lead­ers of the Re­pub­lic­an and Demo­crat­ic na­tion­al com­mit­tees on Wed­nes­day weighed in on the pro­spect of an in­de­pend­ent pres­id­en­tial run by” former New York City May­or Mi­chael Bloomberg (I). “DNC Chair­wo­man Debbie Wasser­man Schultz sug­ges­ted that the former New York City may­or’s pri­or­it­ies are already ‘well cared-for’ in the Demo­crat­ic plat­form, while RNC lead­er Re­ince Priebus wel­comed the idea, say­ing Bloomberg would si­phon off votes from the Demo­crat­ic can­did­ate.”

How Large Is Hillary Clinton’s Delegate Lead?
6 hours ago

Three hundred fifty-two, thanks to superdelegates pledged to Clinton, and the vagaries of the delegate allocation process in early states. Not bad, considering her results have been a virtual tie and a blowout loss.