Reports: Plutonium can escape from unfiltered shafts at WIPP — ‘Freakish’ accident “could have long-term effects” — “Anxiety coursing among the people” — ‘Nuke industry profiteers’ tell us “don’t worry, it’s safe… one of deadliest substances known to man” — Future of dump in jeopardy

Monday, March 3, 2014
By Paul Martin
March 3rd, 2014

Las Cruses Sun-News, March 3, 2014: The people living in and around the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant east of Carlsbad deserve honest answers to their legitimate questions about a recent leak […] there is still much to be learned. To that end, we commend U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, who wrote to [the EPA] requesting mobile environmental monitoring units to conduct independent tests around the WIPP site. […] More tests will be needed to determine if other workers have been exposed […] we don’t know yet what health impacts will result […] they will likely be dealing with the repercussions of this accident for years to come […] the chances of anybody other than a worker being contaminated are remote. Still, we think the independent monitoring called for by Udall and Heinrich will go a long way toward easing those doubts. […] we just don’t know enough about the cause of the leak to ascertain whether it was a freakish, isolated incident or a symptom of a larger, systematic problem. […]

Scott Kovac, Nuclear Watch New Mexico: “There are 4 ways for air to get to the surface – the Exhaust Shaft, the Salt Shaft, the Air Intake Shaft, and the Waste Handling Shaft. When radioactive contamination is detected, airflow is directed to the Exhaust Shaft as its filter is put into place. This shaft has the only filter and monitors on any of the shafts. WIPP officials claim that it was a monitor in Panel 7 that detected radiation and set into action the sending of all the air to the Exhaust Shaft. The Panel 7 monitor is around 2000 feet from the shafts.”

AP, Mar. 1, 2014: Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway concedes, however, the accident could have long-term effects. “I am worried about the impact,” he said. “I’m not worried about the levels.”

Greenville News, March 3, 2014: A radioactive leak that has indefinitely shut down a New Mexico nuclear waste dump has left South Carolina holding a stockpile of weapons waste […] The plans to ship waste stored at the Savannah River Site are in limbo – and the government isn’t prepared yet to talk about what will happen next if the New Mexico underground dump no longer is an option. The U.S. Department of Energy said Friday it is “evaluating its options” after a mysterious leak two weeks ago at New Mexico’s federal Waste Isolation Pilot Plant exposed workers to radiation and shut down operations. The department said more information will be presented next week. […] A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Friday that “we’re monitoring and seeing what impact” the New Mexico radiation leak will have on SRS.

Las Vegas Sun News, Mar. 2, 2014: Don’t worry. It’s safe. Where have we heard that before? […] governments say whatever they need in order to get people to feel OK living near one of the deadliest substances known to man. […] anxiety [is] coursing among the people who live near [WIPP] […] just a few years into a multi- thousand-year program […] They told us the fallout was safe.[…] We are told that burying high-level nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain is one of the safest exercises known to man, or some other such nonsense. […] same spiel [given] to the folks in New Mexico. […] nuke industry profiteers promise us the world just to WIPP us into shape.

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