Plutonium Released. Body, Lung Scans Being Conducted. ‘We Don’t Know What Happened’
22 February, 2014
The Department of Energy has confirmed the airborne release of Plutonium-239 & Americium-241 from underground nuclear waste storage site near Carlsbad, NM. Body and lung scans are now being conducted for everyone within 100 miles of the site, yet nuclear proponents insist, as usual, there’e no threat to public health or safety and the military nuclear facility has been shuttered.
“We are wondering why it took a couple of days to confirm the radiological event outside of the underground,” said Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn. “We will demand that federal officials share information with the public in real time. That’s the reason we are here.”
Known as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), the facility is the nation’s only licensed deep geological nuclear waste repository. Approximately 26 miles east of Carlsbad, New Mexico, the facility is the nation’s so-called solution for permanent disposal of the Department of Energy’s cold war legacy transuranic waste that has been stored at 23 former nuclear-weapons-complex and generation sites located across 13 states
The term transuranic refers to artificially made radioactive elements, such as neptunium, plutonium, americium, and others, with atomic numbers higher than uranium in the periodic table of elements.
None of those elements are stable and each decays radioactively into other elements.
The event began late on Feb. 15 when air monitors detected elevated radiation levels in the plants underground storage complex located more than 2000 feet beneath the surface. No employees were working underground at the time and those on the surface sheltered in place as a precaution.
Operations at the facility have been halted and workers have been unable reenter the underground storage complex due to high radiation levels.
On Wednesday, tests by the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center, a division of the College of Engineering at New Mexico State University, showed the presence americium and plutonium on at least one air filter retrieved from a sampling station located a half mile from the from the WIPP site.
Normally the filters are retrieved on a daily basis. Given the original incident the previous Friday, the filters had not been retrieved for testing in 5 days.
It is highly disturbing that the Department of Energy waited several days before notifying New Mexico state officials about the airborne release.
According to Russell Hardy, director of the center, the radiation levels are highest ever detected at or around the site.
The Department of Energy states they are still not aware of the cause of the radiation release in underground complex as workers have been unable to get back inside, let alone how radiation managed to get to the surface, if this was a one-time event or an ongoing release.
DOE also indicates operations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant will not resume anytime soon and it could three or four weeks before workers can go underground to survey the possible source of the radiation release.
The DOE on Saturday announced it had shuttered operations in response to an underground radiation sensor. But it wasn’t until Wednesday night that DOE confirmed that radiation had also been released above ground, about a half mile from the plant.
Again, it was not until a Thursday press conference that Jose Franco, manager of the DOE’s Carlsbad Field Office, confirmed publicly that readings from the monitors matched materials from the waste that is stored there, indicating a leak.
Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn said he traveled to Carlsbad as soon as he was told Wednesday night that radiation had been picked up by an above ground air sensor.
Control the Message
Despite the fact that everyone, at least publicly, is shrugging their shoulders as to the cause and severity, Department of Energy Carlsbad Field Office Manager Joe Franco assured the public in a news conference Thursday afternoon that the environment, personnel and public are not at risk.
It is interesting to note that, despite this claim of no risk to the public, the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center is providing free lung and body scans to concerned adult citizens living within a 100-mile radius of the WIPP facility.
Rule number one in crisis management is to control the message. As always with public reporting on nuclear accidents, be it Fukushima,, environmental contamination and health hazards from failing storage tanks at Hanford nuclear site in Washington State or any of the dozens of other radiological incidents and unintentional releases occurring annually at nuclear facilities around the country, all formal statements invariably include the standard boilerplate material indicating “no current threat to the public.
”It’s really sad that when you get older and actually give a shit about these things, you suddenly realize that you are just a fucking number to the Government,” comments Hoppy Hopkins under a video about the nuclear site on YouTube. “Another statistic that will bent and abused by some so called expert who constantly claims that “there is nothing to fear”, a bet they sleep like fucking babies at night.
“How do politicians honestly expect one f..king ounce of trust when everything they spew out is 100% recycled BS. I do hope those fuckers die of cancer, if there is ever a revolution, then there wont be enough lamp posts to hang these bastards
“Its really sad that when you get older and actually give a shit about these things, you suddenly realize that you are just a fucking number to the Government. Another statistic that will bent and abused by some so called expert who constantly claims that ‘there is nothing to fear’, a bet they sleep like fucking babies at night. How do politicians honestly expect one fucking ounce of trust when everything they spew out is 100% recycled BS.
What’s firmly established is that americium and plutonium have been released into the atmosphere. Both elements primarily emit alpha radiation rather than beta or gamma radiation. External exposure to alpha particles isn’t a major health risk because they have a low penetration depth and are usually stopped by skin.
When alpha-emitters, however, are breathed in or ingested, the primary concern with this incident, they are extremely hazardous, can irradiate internal organs and are capable of causing considerable chromosomal damage and cancer.
The underground storage facility stores waste transferred by truck from Los Alamos National Laboratory, N.M., as well as Energy facilities in Idaho and Georgia. Each week it receives 17 to 19 shipments of low-grade nuclear waste like plutonium-contaminated clothing and tools from Los Alamos National Laboratory and other federal nuclear sites around the country.
Last year, that amounted to nearly 1,000 separate shipments being trucked across the nation.
The facility closed for routine maintenance on Feb. 14 and was supposed to re-open March 10, when it would again start taking in waste shipments. Due to the leak, it will not take any new shipments as previously planned on March 10, Franco said. He could not say when it was likely to reopen.
The news of the plutonium leak hits as President Obama pulled a swift one on the American public so yet another dangerous and costly facility can be built in Georgia – at the American reader’s expense.
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