TV: Radioactive waste containers may be “smashed and opened” after roof collapse at leaking U.S. nuclear site — Official: We believe there’s been a breach… “It’s a very serious thing” — ‘Seismic event’ mentioned — High levels of alpha and beta radiation detected (VIDEO)

Published: February 21st, 2014 at 11:49 am ET
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Carlsbad Current Argus, Feb. 20, 2014 (emphasis added): [...] the radiation leak occurred on the evening of Feb. 14, according to new information made public at a news conference Thursday afternoon. […] Joe Franco, manager of the DOE Carlsbad Field Office, said an underground air monitor detected high levels of alpha and beta radiation activity consistent the waste buried at WIPP. “We are assuming and believe that it is from one of our waste (sources) that we have underground […]” he added. […] It could be up to three or four weeks before workers can go underground to survey the possible source [...]

Reuters, Feb. 20, 2014: Airborne radioisotopes can be harmful if inhaled or swallowed. […] “Even though it’s well below levels established by the EPA to ensure protection of public health, it’s a very serious thing,” [Franco] said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. “WIPP is not intended to be in this kind of condition.” […] “Radiation is simply not supposed to be released outside this facility. It’s not supposed to be released inside the underground. Any type of release is unacceptable and disconcerting,” [Secretary of New Mexico Environment Department Ryan Flynn] said. […] Franco said indications suggest a drum or drums containing radioactive waste may have breached for reasons that are not yet known.

AP, Feb. 20, 2014: [...] could be weeks before workers can safely access the underground dump to determine what happened. […] It was the second incident in just a matter of weeks. Earlier this month, a truck hauling salt below ground caught fire [...] but Franco said it was unlikely the events were related. He also said there was no evidence of a seismic event at the site.

KRQE, Feb. 21, 2014: Federal and state agencies are scrambling to deal with the discovery of airborne radiation [...] one of the working theories right now is that a big slab of the roof broke free, hit the stack, knocked some drums off and smashed and opened one or more of them. [...] that is not supposed to happen in areas being actively worked by crews. It appears the leak occurred in an active work area [...]

Watch the KRQE broadcast here

Published: February 21st, 2014 at 11:49 am ET
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186 comments

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