Report: Officials backtrack on threat to public from WIPP leak — Now only “pretty sure” population centers are safe — Group calling for outside help, independent scientists to collect radiation samples — TV: Fears in Texas Panhandle; “Material could’ve been pushed up this direction” (VIDEO)

Saturday, March 1, 2014
By Paul Martin
March 1st, 2014

Carlsbad Current-Argus, Feb. 28, 2014: […] Thirteen employees at WIPP, located 26 miles east of Carlsbad, tested positive for americium-241 […] only a handful of workers submitted to a full-body scan […] The Carlsbad chapter of the United Steelworkers is baffled as to why [officials] have not required the scans for employees and are calling for outside help. […] independent scientists will soon travel to Carlsbad to collect radiation samples […] DOE has consistently claimed that the radiation leak presents no threat to the environmental or humans. However at a Thursday news conference, Carlsbad Field Office Manager Joe Franco admitted that the department is not “100 percent certain,” but is “pretty sure” the surrounding population centers are safe. […] According [to the EPA] Americium-241 poses a significant health risk if ingested or inhaled and increases a person’s risk of developing cancer. […]

Common Dreams, Feb. 25, 2014: [DOE] compared this to the typical chest x-ray […] Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer and nuclear safety advocate at Fairewinds Associates and former nuclear industry executive turned whistleblower, told Common Dreams that this comparison doesn’t work. “The difference is that the x-ray is broadly distributed externally over a large piece of mass. On the other hand, the radioactivity 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. This comparison does not take into account the internal exposure these people receive.” […]

Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer and nuclear safety advocate at Fairewinds Associates: “It happens routinely when workers are contaminated that they bring that radiation home. The families of the workers need to have their homes tested as soon as possible.”

FOX 14, Feb. 26, 2014: Radiation leak in Carlsbad, New Mexico leads to fear of the High Plains skies. […] John Harris, Chief Meteorologist: “The Texas panhandle is northeast of Carlsbad, so if we had had a southwest wind some of that material could have been pushed up this direction.”

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