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.
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As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."