Department of Energy Answers Questions About Radiation Leak at WIPP Facility

Department of Energy Answers Questions About Radiation Leak at WIPP Facility

By: Justin Kree

NewsWest 9

CARLSBAD, N.M. - It's too soon to speculate about the health affects on workers from a radiation leak at an underground nuclear waste plant near Carlsbad.

Officials talked to the press on Thursday about the radiation leak that occurred back on February 14 that ultimately contaminated 13 workers on the site that day.

The underground waste facility is located 26 miles east of Carlsbad. Radioactive levels were high due to a leak somewhere in the facility. Immediately, the procedure went into place and soil, water and even the workers were tested.  

The tests came back on Wednesday and so far 13 have a small amount of radiation.  

Farok Sharif, the project manager and Nuclear Waste Partnership's President, says safety for all workers is his main concern.

"Health and welfare and well being of this community are my top priorities," Sharif said.

Joe Franco is the Department of Energy Carlsbad Field Office manager. He tells NewsWest 9 that there are procedures to follow to make sure the leak is secure before miners can return underground.

He also says that to find out the amount of radiation in each person that was affected could take many weeks to determine.

"Additional sampling will be collected from the employees in the weeks ahead to complete the analysis," Franco said.

WIPP also said all employees who wish to be tested for radiation exposure will not be turned away.

For any questions, you are asked to go to the Department of Energy's website at www.wipp.energy.gov