Tests show 'no health risk' for WIPP workers exposed to radiation

Posted at: 03/05/2014 5:58 PM
By: Elizabeth Reed, KOB.com



Officials at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant have released more information about the amount of radiation released after a leak at the site near Carlsbad.

According to the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring Research Center, the plant released about a month's worth of radiation in a period of four and a half days. Thirteen WIPP workers were exposed to radiation at the low-level nuclear waste site.

Officials note that follow-up testing of the employees showed exposure levels were extremely low and that the employees were unlikely to experience any health effects as result. The testing came back negative for plutonium and americium.

The amount of airborne radiation detected at WIPP was also below the EPA's acceptable level, according to the research center.

"We have sent samples to the Center for Disease Control for validation," said Farok Sharif, president and project manager of Nuclear Waste Partnership. "Biological testing continues on other workers who were at the site following the initial exposure event, and there is always the possibility of positive exposure results from that testing. The ability to detect extremely small amounts of radioactive material also means there may be false positives that occur throughout the testing process."

The radiation leak was detected last month. The plant is allotted a certain amount of airborne radiation per year.

There is no word yet on what caused the leak.