New Mexico Nuclear Repository WIPP Monitored for Radiation
Officials testing for the presence of airborne radiation at an underground nuclear repository in New Mexico say their tests have detected no contamination. Several samples were taken around the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant after an air monitor detected radiation on underground levels Friday night.
“Monitors at the WIPP boundary have confirmed there is no danger to human health or the environment. No contamination has been found on any equipment, personnel, or facilities,” said the U.S. Department of Energy in a statement.
No workers were underground at the time, and the 139 workers aboveground were told to stay as a precautionary measure. No one tested positive for contamination, or reported any injuries.
Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Energy, Roger Nelson states that the cause of the leak is not yet known as no one has been underground. It is not known when this will occur.
“We are going to take measurements and make sure we understand it,” states Roger Nelson.
According to Roger Nelson, the air monitor had automatically switched the ventilation system to filtered mode due to the radiation detected. He would not release measurements of amounts that trigger this process, but did assure that they are very sensitive.
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or WIPP, is the nation’s only deep geological nuclear waste repository. It currently disposes of waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory, among other nuclear projects. The storage facilities take in waste that emits alpha and beta radiation. The risk with this type of radiation is inhalation rather than penetration.
This incident follows after an underground truck fire occurred earlier this month approximately 1,000 feet from the area. The fire prompted an evacuation, and six people were treated for smoke inhalation. “I just can’t think of a scenario where there would be a relationship,” states Roger Nelson.
New Mexico Nuclear Repository WIPP Monitored for Radiation.