Leak Prompts Tighter Protections at New Mexico Nuclear Burial Ground

Global Security Newswire Staff
Add to Briefcase
Global Security Newswire Staff
April 23, 2014, 7:59 a.m.

A Feb­ru­ary ra­di­ation leak will force tight­er pre­cau­tions at a nuc­le­ar-waste buri­al ground in New Mex­ico, the Al­buquerque Journ­al re­ports.

Em­ploy­ees at the Waste Isol­a­tion Pi­lot Plant will be ex­pec­ted “to wear pro­tect­ive equip­ment — cov­er­alls, shoe cov­ers and gloves — to make sure con­tam­in­a­tion doesn’t get on us and res­pir­at­ors so it doesn’t get in us,” Bob Mc­Quinn, the head of the fa­cil­ity’s man­aging con­tract­or, told the Journ­al for a Tues­day re­port.

Work­ers stopped en­ter­ing the plant’s sub­ter­ranean sec­tion after warn­ing sys­tems iden­ti­fied es­caped con­tam­in­ants on Feb. 14. Since the in­cid­ent, signs of ra­di­ation ex­pos­ure have turned up in at least 21 em­ploy­ees.

The ex­act source of the leak still re­mains un­clear. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, though, has in­dic­ated that the fa­cil­ity would ul­ti­mately be­gin re­ceiv­ing new waste from U.S. atom­ic labor­at­or­ies, ac­cord­ing to the Journ­al.

“The place that really has had no ra­di­ation pro­tec­tion is­sues now has, not more than the rest of the sites, but sim­il­ar ra­di­ation pro­tec­tion haz­ards,” said Mc­Quinn, pres­id­ent and pro­ject man­ager of Nuc­le­ar Waste Part­ner­ship.

“The form­al­ity of what we do is go­ing to have to be strengthened,” Mc­Quinn ad­ded. “Al­though there was train­ing, we wer­en’t as good at form­al­ity of op­er­a­tions as we need to be.”

Fa­cil­ity work­ers this week re­ceived train­ing to po­ten­tially use ro­bot­ic equip­ment dur­ing res­tor­a­tion ef­forts at the stor­age site, the Carls­bad Cur­rent-Ar­gus re­por­ted on Tues­day. The equip­ment came from San­dia and Los Alam­os na­tion­al labor­at­or­ies, which are both also loc­ated in New Mex­ico.

The En­ergy De­part­ment since Sunday has sent spe­cial­ists to Carls­bad, N.M., to pre­pare em­ploy­ees to in­stall new fil­tra­tion gear at the waste stor­age fa­cil­ity. The vis­it­ing crews came from the Sa­van­nah River Site in South Car­o­lina.

What We're Following See More »
NRA Chief: Leftist Protesters Are Paid
14 hours ago
Trump Still on Campaign Rhetoric
17 hours ago
Trump Rails On Obamacare
17 hours ago

After spending a few minutes re-litigating the Democratic primary, Donald Trump turned his focus to Obamacare. “I inherited a mess, believe me. We also inherited a failed healthcare law that threatens our medical system with absolute and total catastrophe” he said. “I’ve been watching and nobody says it, but Obamacare doesn’t work.” He finished, "so we're going to repeal and replace Obamacare."

Trump Goes After The Media
17 hours ago

Donald Trump lobbed his first attack at the “dishonest media” about a minute into his speech, saying that the media would not appropriately cover the standing ovation that he received. “We are fighting the fake news,” he said, before doubling down on his previous claim that the press is “the enemy of the people." However, he made a distinction, saying that he doesn't think all media is the enemy, just the "fake news."

Report: Trump Asked FBI to Deny Russia Stories
18 hours ago

"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.