Carlsbad Current-Argus, Mar. 10, 2014: Four more employees at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant have tested positive for elevated levels of radiation over the weekend. The Department of Energy announced that fecal samples taken from employees at the nuclear waste facility found 17 workers tested positive for low levels of radiation. After initial testing more than a week ago, the DOE reported 13 workers tested positive for trace amounts americium and plutonium. [...]
KRQE, Mar. 10, 2014 (emphasis added): WIPP radiation leak still a mystery [...] contamination drifted across the countryside and 26 miles west, all the way to the city of Carlsbad itself. Nuclear experts told residents, worried about children, the WIPP contamination now confirmed to have reached town is not dangerous. ”Below any limit, just above background, and would result in no health potential to a child, or a fetus,” Fran Williams, URS technical advisor said. [...] Panel 7 is where workers most recently put waste. The radiation leak is believed to be [in that panel, which is the length of a football field]. [...] it’s thought most likely part of the roof of the mine here collapsed on and ruptured containers. Another possibility is that a container blew up. [...] Roof sections here have collapsed before, two decades ago during stress tests. Hundreds of tons of salt crashed down. [...] Salt is elastic, so from the moment tunnels are dug they start to close back in. Roof bolts slow down, but do not stop that. [...]
Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds chief engineer and former nuclear industry executive: “[An] x-ray is broadly distributed externally over a large piece of mass. On the other hand, the radioactivity [from WIPP] in the air is in a particular form [i.e. particulate] that can deposit in your lung. Radioactive material is attracted to your lung tissue. What you breathe in does not come out.
New York Times: Plutonium and americium [...] lodged in the body bombards internal organs with subatomic particles for the rest of the person’s lifetime.
Published: March 10th, 2014 at 6:14 pm ET