WIPP Recovery Town Hall Meeting, U.S. Department of Energy, Published Mar. 11, 2014:
- 49:30 in – Fran Williams, technical adviser for URS, the company that runs WIPP: There are 7 monitoring stations off of the WIPP site [...] I only spoke to the one that was the highest. There’s one in Carlsbad and that one was even lower, just above background. […] well below any limits [...] and will result in no health potential to a child or a fetus.
- 57:00 in: They’re down at the levels of licking your iPhone charger. I’m not trying to be funny; I’m trying to equate radiation exposure to something that you can understand. […] I hope that helps.
Some experts may disagree with that analysis:
- Wall St. Journal: Plutonium and americium particles can lodge into bones or muscle tissue, affecting cellular structures and DNA, experts say. “When it gets into your body it can do a lot of damage,” said [Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists] “Even very small amounts are a potential concern.”
- Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds chief engineer: “The radioactivity [from WIPP] in the air is in a particular form 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: Workers inhaled plutonium and americium, which if lodged in the body bombards internal organs with subatomic particles for the rest of the person’s lifetime.
Though the URS adviser confirms radioactive material from WIPP reached Carlsbad, Carlsbad’s newspaper maintains it did not (emphasis added): “[CEMRC] director Russell Hardy has remained adamant that the radioactive particles could not have spread far since the release. “It’s impossible because they are heavier isotopes,” Hardy said. “Probably the furthest they could travel is about 15 to 20 miles.” Data has shown that the radiation didn’t even make it to the nearest population center. [...] “The problem is that trust of the government and trust of the mainstream media is so low that it has become easy to compete with either in terms of trust,” said Kyle Marksteiner, a resident of Carlsbad. “Someone starts a web page and claims independence, and their information is being perceived as just as credible.”‘
An excerpt from today’s Albuquerque Journal may help explain these disparities: “One mother who raised concerns about future incidents and her children’s health – echoing the worries voiced by another mother at the same meeting – said the facility’s importance to the region made her skeptical of the information provided. “I feel that WIPP is just such an enormous part of this community [...] They don’t want the people to perhaps know the extent of what went wrong.”
Published: March 16th, 2014 at 11:32 pm ET