Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring & Research Center, Mar. 5, 2014 (emphasis added): Station A (pre-HEPA) in the morning following the event (2/15/14) showed high levels of radioactivity consisting of 1,365 Bq/m3 of Americium (241Am) and 672 Bq/m3 of Plutonium (239+240Pu). Twenty-four hours following the event (11:30pm Saturday 2/15/14), another filter sample showed much lower levels of radioactivity, measuring 130 Bq/m3 of 241Am and 17 Bq/m3 of 239+240Pu. [...] It is important to note that while very high levels of radioactivity were measured immediately following the 2/14/14 radiation detection event, these values are reflective of what was measured prior to going through the HEPA filtration system [...] Station B (post-HEPA) in the afternoon of Tuesday (2/18/14). Analysis of this filter showed a moderate amount of radioactivity measuring 1.81 Bq/m3 of 241Am and 0.224 Bq/m3 of 239+240Pu. [...] it is evident that a moderate amount of radioactive isotopes were released into the air from the WIPP exhaust shaft [...] CEMRC scientists are preparing to collect soil and surface water samples [...]
SimplyInfo, Mar. 5, 2014: What is still unknown is the total of the release itself. [...] DOE claims that the brief release of plutonium to the environment happened through the normal exhaust system the brief moment before the HEPA filter kicked in.
AP, Mar. 6, 2014: [...] 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.
Carlsbad Current Argus, Mar. 5, 2014: Employees [...] can relax. [The Dept. of Energy said] the employees are unlikely to experience any adverse health effects. [...] plutonium and americium isotopes continue to linger underground. [...] “What the data tells me is that there was an initial puff of radioactive dust and now the air in the underground is still kicking up the dust and transporting the radioactive particles,” Hardy said. “We still have a ways to go and at least we’re going in the right direction. The HEPA filters appear to be catching the bulk of it.”
Albuquerque Journal, Guest Column, Mar. 6, 2014: WIPP release story doesn’t add up [...] I also support southern New Mexico’s quest to be the nuclear processing economy of the country, cradle and grave. [...] The recent accident at [WIPP] is unbelievable to me. Nearly 20 years ago I went to WIPP, rode the elevator down, saw the tunnels [...] Transuranic waste, the exclusive purview of WIPP [...] is classified as a subset of Low Level waste, but it contains things that are far more radioactive than anything classified as High Level Waste. [...] I want to hear what really happened down there. WIPP was envisioned and engineered to never have a release for 10,000 years. [...] I remember who I thought were the hysterical ones testifying to the endless public panels before WIPP opened. One read into the record a long scenario with specific chemicals leeching together, fire and the resulting black smoke belching from the horizon. That person described in great detail the underground circumstances leading up to the release that nobody thought would ever happen. That person, whoever it was, was kind of old back then, and I wonder if he’s alive to see it. I’m now thinking he may get to say, “I told you so.”
Published: March 6th, 2014 at 1:38 pm ET