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 »
Trump and Clinton Equally Disliked
4 hours ago

According to the most recent Gallup poll, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are equally disliked. The poll, conducted between July 18 and July 25, shows both major party candidates for president are viewed favorably by 37 percent of respondents and unfavorably by 58 percent of respondents. This poll is bad news for Clinton, who has received better favorable and unfavorable ratings in nearly every poll over the last year.

Pence: “Serious Consequences” if Russia Hacked DNC
5 hours ago

The same day that Donald Trump encouraged Russia to hack the State Department and "find the 30,000 emails that are missing," the GOP nominee for vice president took a more serious approach. "If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences," Pence said in a statement. Trump's comments at a press conference this morning were rebuked by individuals across the political spectrum, while some on Trump's team, including prominent surrogate Newt Gingrich, have called his comments a "joke."

Fed Leaves Rates Alone, but Signals Hikes to Come
6 hours ago

The Federal Open Market Committee today voted to leave interest rates alone, but "upgraded its assessment of the economy’s recent performance and said near-term risks to the outlook have diminished, effectively leaving the door open to raise rates later this year, possibly as early as September."

Pence Is Trump’s Man on Capitol Hill
8 hours ago

"Spurred by VP pick Mike Pence, a former congressman with close ties to many lawmakers, the Trump campaign in recent weeks has stepped up its courtship of wary Capitol Hill Republicans. And the efforts appear to be bearing fruit." Central to the charm offensive: invitations to more than a dozen "Senate and House members into his family’s private box for some power-schmoozing with him and his kids" during the Republican National Convention.

Trump Encourages More Spying by Russia
8 hours ago

Donald Trump essentially encouraged more Russian espionage against Democrats in a press conference this morning. "Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” That prompted Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan to say: “Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. Putin should stay out of this election.”