New tests show plutonium reached millions of times normal levels at WIPP site — Concern air filters at plant may not have worked — Gov’t accused of lying about radiation leak (VIDEO)

Friday, February 28, 2014
By Paul Martin
February 28th, 2014

CEMRC Ambient Air Sampling Results (pdf), Feb. 27, 2014:

109 Yards NW of WIPP Exhaust Shaft — Sample time Feb. 11-18

Pu239+240: 0.115 Bq per sample [39 times the highest activity ever detected since testing began in 1997, which was 0.004 Bq per sample]
Pu238: 0.004 Bq per sample [Never detected since testing began in 1997]
Am241: 1.3 Bq per sample [2600 times the highest activity ever detected since testing began in 1997, which was 0.0005 Bq per sample]
Only the all-time highest activity levels were provided. CEMRC director Russell Hardy discussed the normal levels during the resident meeting earlier this week in Carlsbad: “I just want to reiterate, normally we do see ‘0’. For my radio-chemists, ‘0’ is not good enough. I don’t know how they balance a check book, because they don’t stop until they get to eight zeroes past the decimal point — that’s normally what we see.”

This means a normal reading is at most 0.000000009 Bq per sample — making the recent Pu239+240 sample equal to 12,777,778 times higher than normal, and the Am241 sample 144,444,444 times normal levels.

KOB, Feb. 26, 2014: The government says there wasn’t enough radiation leaked last week at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant to be harmful. But some claim that’s a lie, and they believe the jet stream is going to push the radiation far and wide. People living in and around Carlsbad are especially concerned, and it’s difficult to not be.

KRQE, Feb. 25, 2014: [It’s] no more risky that a dental x-ray or an airline flight. One skeptical member of the audience asked how they could be sure of that since not all the samples have been analyzed and little is known yet about what happened. DOE officials say they will continue to monitor the levels on a constant basis.

KOB, Feb. 26, 2014: “I’m concerned at the fact the data says that radiation levels are safe. I dont know of any radiation levels to be safe.” […] The concern here in Carlsbad is everywhere.

AP, Feb. 27, 2014: All indications are that a filtration system […] worked. But watchdog Don Hancock, director of the Nuclear Waste Safety program at the Southwest Research and Information Center, said the fact that the workers were exposed raises questions about those claims. “[…] we don’t know how well they worked because they have never been tried.”

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