Albuquerque Journal News, Apr. 22, 2014: WIPP workers face big changes, Their jobs won’t ever be the same — Now that contamination has been discovered underground – although the extent is still unknown – the contractor that runs the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant says workers will face a new paradigm when they return to the site: more formality, tougher rules and more protective gear. [...] those working underground will likely be doing their jobs in a more hazardous environment – or one where the risks have been made more evident – with new rules of engagement to protect them from exposure to radiation. [...] plutonium and americium may have contaminated rock salt walls, mixed into dust on the floor, and clung to machinery and other equipment underground. If stirred or scuffed up, the radiation can become airborne and inhaled. [...] NWP workers are not permitted to speak to the press, according to a spokesman.
- Bob McQuinn, new president/project manager of WIPP operator: “The place [...] now has, not more than the rest of the sites, but similar radiation protection hazards [...] Now we’re going to have 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. People who haven’t had to wear protective equipment will have to.”
- Dr. Fred Mettler, radiologist and US representative to the United Nations World Health and Atomic Energy Agency: “The first rule of thumb is nobody thinks any of this is good for you. So you want to keep doses as low as possible. Medically, it’s very, very difficult to get the stuff out of you.”
- Jim Frederick, United Steel Workers assistant director of health, safety and environment: “Is this place going to be safe for our folks to go back to? [...] What was not in place that might have kept this from happening? And what do we need to do to keep the workers safe and make sure the public health risks are kept at zero or very, very close to zero?”
KOAT, Apr. 20, 2014: “The more they went into panel 7, the more it started becoming more widespread,” said WIPP deputy recovery manager Tammy Reynolds. [...] Inspectors plan to go back down and explore things further, but in case the radiation levels pose too much of a threat, robots will go underground instead. “Robot operators have already been to the WIPP site, received all of the training to go to the underground,” said Reynolds.
Carlsbad Current-Argus, Apr. 22, 2014: robots are on standby to support the recovery operations
Published: April 22nd, 2014 at 1:18 pm ET
- AP: Crews retreat after nuclear material found at WIPP — Officials: Correct to turn back, contamination was increasing — Robots brought to site for radiation levels too high for humans — ‘Significant amount of information’ will be revealed to public in next few days (VIDEOS) April 18, 2014
- Alarm after ‘unusually high’ radiation levels at U.S. nuclear site — Gov’t: “We’ve never seen a level like we are seeing… I can’t tell you the amount” — Could be Plutonium — ‘Unclear’ how much radiation released — Unprecedented event (VIDEO) February 16, 2014
- Radiation levels spike 7,000% at US nuclear site — Coming from Plutonium, Uranium, Americium, or other alpha emitters — AP: Workers shelter in buildings — Official: Contaminated sample is so safe “it could have been… put in someone’s lunch bucket” (VIDEO) November 11, 2014
- Reuters: “Unsafe levels of radiation” were released during WIPP accident; More workers contaminated with plutonium — AP: Leak of radioactive material could’ve been “orders of magnitude larger”; Feds now testing air & soil 50 miles from site (AUDIO) March 31, 2014
- Reuters: Investigation suggests another drum with plutonium ruptured at US nuclear site — TV: “There are new concerns at WIPP that there could be another radiation leak” (VIDEO) September 19, 2014