Follow up testing to employees who had been exposed to airborne radioactive material after an accident reveals that exposure levels were quite low and, thankfully, the employees are not at an increased risk of developing any resulting health effects.
A New Mexican facility, Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), suffered a dangerous radioactive release this past February and 13 employees were initially tested for the two radioactive isotopes that had been detected at the scene, plutonium and americium. The initial samples came back positive for contamination but they sent them to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for another validation. A statement from the organization said that since they had detected very small amounts at the scene meant there could be false positive that occurred in employee testing.
The WIPP is a Department of Energy facility and began operations in 1999. They are the country’s only deep geologic repository for nuclear waste of this kind.
The Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP) and WIPP are working with the employee union to make sure everyone is satisfied with the process and all concerns are addressed. The president of the local union said she appreciates the support and communication from NWP.
The WIPP is still trying to identify the source of the radiation leak. They are currently focused on the health and safety of their employees and their work environment. Efforts are in place to develop a recovery strategy to allow waste disposal to continue at a safe level.
We applaud the organizations for taking extra steps to ensure that the concerns of their workers are being taken seriously. The site is continually being monitored for any airborne or on-premises waste particles and they continue to test employees for contamination.