WIPP to be shut down for three weeks due to radiation leak

Posted at: 02/20/2014 6:32 PM
By: Lauren Hansard, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The WIPP site near Carlsbad announced Thursday it will be shut down for at least the next three weeks because of a radiation leak.

Officials said they’ve stopped the leak.

Officials with the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad said radiation leaked from the underground facility into the air last week.

The WIPP plant disposes of nuclear waste, so when evidence of a leak is found, it’s taken very seriously.

"Any type of release outside of the facility or inside the facility is unacceptable and is dis-concerning," said Ryan Flynn, Secretary of the NM Environment Department.

The entire facility was evacuated after the leak was discovered.

"This is the first time that we have had a leak at the facility," said Joe Franco of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Secretary of the state environment department said even one time is unacceptable.

“From the state's perspective, one event is far too many," said Flynn.

The plant said the air is safe, and the detected levels are not enough to threaten human health.

WIPP officials said this was a one-time incident and the leak has stopped.

They won’t know what caused the leak until they go into the underground facility which isn’t expected to happen for at least three weeks.

The plant will remain closed until the cause of the leak is determined.

WIPP officials said the radiation leak is not connected to an underground fire that happened at the plant two weeks ago.