Team to probe event at New Mexico nuclear site

Team to probe event at New Mexico nuclear site

Posted: Updated:

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) -- The U.S. Department of Energy has appointed a team to investigate the detection of radiation in and near a southeastern New Mexico facility that's the nation's only underground nuclear waste repository in operation.

The assessment of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant will be conducted by an accident investigation board consisting of department officials and representatives of health and safety agencies, the department said in a statement released late Wednesday.

The board will be assisted by experts in fields such as fire protection, ventilation, and mine safety, the department said.

An underground monitor at the plant near Carlsbad detected airborne radiation late Friday night, and an independent monitor center said Wednesday it found radioactive isotopes in an air sensor a half-mile from the plant.

A filter from a monitor northwest of the plant had trace amounts of americium and plutonium, said Russell Hardy, director of the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center, an arm of New Mexico State University.

The detected levels are highest ever detected at or around the site but also far below those deemed unsafe by the Environmental Protection Agency, Hardy said.

The department said it is developing a plan for personnel to re-enter the plant and that shipments to the plant have been suspended. However, no shipments were scheduled from Feb. 14 through March 10 because of an annual maintenance work, the department said.

The readings were detected two weeks after a truck hauling salt in an underground mine at the site caught fire, shuttering operations for a few days. Officials said that fire was in an area separate from where nuclear waste is stored.

WIPP is the nation's first and only operating deep geological nuclear repository. It takes plutonium-contaminated waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory and other defense projects, and buries it in rooms cut from underground salt beds.

The plant began operations in 1999.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Viral StoriesMore>>

  • Oklahoma policeman accused of sex assaults on duty

    Oklahoma policeman accused of sex assaults on duty

    Friday, August 22 2014 11:36 AM EDT2014-08-22 15:36:23 GMT
    An Oklahoma City police officer was arrested Thursday and is being held in lieu of $5 million bond after being accused of committing a series of sexual assaults against at least six women while on duty.
    An Oklahoma City police officer was arrested Thursday and is being held in lieu of $5 million bond after being accused of committing a series of sexual assaults against at least six women while on duty.
  • VIDEO: Beluga whale teases kids at aquarium

    VIDEO: Beluga whale teases kids at aquarium

    Friday, August 22 2014 8:33 AM EDT2014-08-22 12:33:53 GMT
    Video of a beluga whale teasing children at a zoo has gone viral. You can see Juno snapping his jaws at three young children at the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut.
    Video of a beluga whale teasing children at a zoo has gone viral. You can see Juno snapping his jaws at three young children at the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut.
  • Mail carrier says she was assaulted over missing mail, but DC police tell different story

    Mail carrier says she was assaulted over missing mail, but DC police tell different story

    Thursday, August 21 2014 9:52 AM EDT2014-08-21 13:52:12 GMT
    A U.S. Postal Worker says she was assaulted by two women in a dispute over missing mail, but D.C. police tell a different story. They say she was the aggressor and the suspect instead, and that she may have called friends for help before officers arrived.
    A U.S. Postal Worker says she was assaulted by two women in a dispute over missing mail, but D.C. police tell a different story. They say she was the aggressor and the suspect instead, and that she may have called friends for help before officers arrived.
Powered by WorldNow

WDCA My20 & my20dc.com
5151 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016

Phone: (202) 244-5151
Email Us

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices