CEMRC, the New Mexico authority that monitors outside the WIPP plutonium facility has provided some usable readings for the leaks.
CEMRC found at the filter 1/2 mile offsite from WIPP:
0.64 Bq of Americium 241
0.092 Bq of Plutonium 239+240
These are assumed to be in meters squared (m3) since that is the unit CEMRC has used for previous readings.
CEMRC readings from dates before the series of problems at WIPP
The total combined activity found 1/2 mile away is .732 bq/m3. While this level is low, it is of isotopes that are a serious inhalation hazard. So far there have not been any findings at filters further from the site. It is also being reported that it will be at least 3 weeks before DOE can get workers into the mines to investigate. They are saying maybe March before they could resume work. DOE tried to dismiss this level as being limited in duration but this misses the problem underground. The release to the environment is being assumed to have happened between the failure and the filtration system kicking in. So a short term above ground event doesn’t mean all is ended below ground. DOE said on Sunday they planned to get someone in the mine right away, now they say 3 weeks. The also backed off on the claim that the truck fire earlier in the month wasn’t related to the leak and chose to wait until they knew more to make concrete statements. DOE has refused to allow CEMRC on site at WIPP to collect their filters there.
Much of this information comes from tweets from two reporters from the Carlsbad Current Argus. Follow @zackponce12 and @jussGreat for ongoing reporting on the WIPP issue. Other data from the Current Argus’s ongoing reporting on their website
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