Worker Testing Expands After Radioactive Waste-Dump Leak

As costs for nuclear waste escalate, states like Illinois are stuck with the radioactive material as Washington debates a solution.
National Journal
Ben Geman
Feb. 28, 2014, 1:35 a.m.

More work­ers at an En­ergy De­part­ment nuc­le­ar-waste stor­age site in New Mex­ico will be tested in the wake of a ra­di­ation leak de­tec­ted in mid-Feb­ru­ary, The Wall Street Journ­al re­ports.

Test res­ults show 13 em­ploy­ees who were work­ing at the Waste Isol­a­tion Pi­lot Plant dur­ing the Feb. 14 leak were af­fected, but of­fi­cials an­nounced Thursday that they will see if oth­er work­ers were ex­posed.

From The Journ­al: “The gov­ern­ment con­tract­or that runs the plant, Nuc­le­ar Waste Part­ner­ship LLC, is now ask­ing em­ploy­ees who were present the fol­low­ing day to also sub­mit samples for test­ing, said Farok Sharif, the com­pany’s pres­id­ent.”

Its story notes that of­fi­cials say meas­ure­ments thus far show that ra­di­ation levels around the site are be­low levels that re­quire re­port­ing to EPA.

The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ports that “of­fi­cials em­phas­ized that all ra­di­ation read­ings at the site have been at low levels, and it would be too soon to spec­u­late about any po­ten­tial health ef­fects.”

AP also re­ports that New Mex­ico’s sen­at­ors are ask­ing EPA Ad­min­is­trat­or Gina Mc­Carthy to provide pub­lic health ana­lys­is and to de­ploy mo­bile en­vir­on­ment­al mon­it­or­ing units to the site, which stores cer­tain wastes from the na­tion’s nuc­le­ar-weapons pro­gram.

Their Feb. 27 let­ter to EPA can be read here.