The environmental center charged with monitoring around the WIPP plutonium storage facility in New Mexico has detected plutonium and americium at a monitoring post 1/2 mile from the WIPP site. They characterized the finding as being “extremely low” but declined to give any actual numbers for the finding.
The center is speculating that the finding could be due to a small escape before the filtration system kicked in. They tested the filter on Tuesday that had been in place since Sunday according to the newspaper report. The initial alarm and leak was on Friday.
There were no findings reported so far for filters further away from the facility. The particles released are considered an inhalation risk but due to their weight they would need to be physically moved by strong winds or similar actions to distribute them.
The DOE has also now backed off of an earlier claim that the truck fire in the tunnels earlier in the month was not related to the leak. They are now saying they won’t speculate and will wait until they can get some confirmations. DOE states that they will issue a press release later in the evening on Wednesday. The local paper The Carlsbad Current Argus has been following the events at the plant closely and has filed a FOIA to attempt to get some useful information out of DOE. To date officials have refused to give any hard data or radiation readings related to the facility, instead using vague characterizations.
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