WIPP officials admit new release of Plutonium and Americium — More expected in future — Nearly double levels seen after February leak — 61 DPM on March 11 vs. 36 DPM in February

Published: March 19th, 2014 at 2:33 pm ET
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AP, Mar. 19, 2014: New air sampling data from southeastern New Mexico’s troubled nuclear waste dump indicates there has been another small radiation release. [...] they believe the contamination is from previous deposits on the inner surface of exhaust ductwork. [...] Officials say occasional low-level releases are anticipated, but they should be well within safe limits.

Las Cruces Sun, Mar. 18, 2014 (emphasis added): DOE: Another radiation release reported at WIPP [...] Samples collected from the ventilation exhaust recorded 61 disintegrations per minute of americium. DPM measures the amount of radioactive contamination from alpha and beta rays in an area. [...] The DOE believes the most recent contamination was residual radioactive particles that were trapped in the ventilation system from the initial radiation leak. [...] The DOE said it anticipates additional low-level releases on occasion, but officials expect radiation in the environment will remain at safe levels. New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn said the state was briefed of the news Tuesday morning and thinks there is nothing to worry about at this time. “The level they detected is low and we don’t believe there was any risk to public health or the environment but we need to investigate more,” he said. [...] Department of Energy officials were not available for comment.

Albuquerque Journal, Mar. 19, 2014: One air sample collected March 11 from the ventilation exhaust showed increased levels of americium [...] In a statement, WIPP called the release “expected, given the amount of contamination captured by the WIPP ventilation system during the February 14 radiation release event.” Engineers say the contamination comes from previous deposits inside the exhaust ducts, WIPP reported. [...] WIPP said it doesn’t expect the release to impact the health of workers, the public or the environment.

KVIA News, Mar. 18, 2014: “This is expected given the amount of contamination captured by the WIPP ventilation system during the February 14 radiation release event,” WIPP’s March 18 statement reads.

Las Cruces Sun, Mar. 18, 2014: Increased radiation in Carlsbad not related to WIPP incidents — Radiation levels appear to be on the rise in Carlsbad and around the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. Air monitoring results since last month’s radiation leak appear to show the amount of radiation trending upward near Carlsbad, but Department of Energy officials say there is no proof it is related to the leak.  A DOE air monitor stationed on Carlsbad’s eastern border, near the Bureau of Land Management office on Greene Street, has shown an uptick of radiation from 1.6 disintegrations per minute (DPM) on Feb. 18, to 7.1 DPM as recently as March 4. [...] The initial radiation leak registered at 36 DPM at the WIPP site [...]

See also: Radiation level doubles at location far from WIPP leak; Carlsbad monitor jumps around 40% — Residents plead for more info, concerns over safety (MAP)

Published: March 19th, 2014 at 2:33 pm ET
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