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13 WIPP workers test positive for radiation, DOE says

Feb. 27, 2014 at 5:59 PM   |   Comments

CARLSBAD, N.M., Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Thirteen employees at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M., have tested positive for radiation after a leak at the plant, officials said.

More people will be tested for radiation during the ongoing investigation into how the Feb. 14 leak at the plant happened, KRQE-TV, Albuquerque, reported.

The Department of Energy said 13 people who were were working above ground the day of the leak have tested positive for radiation. It is too soon to tell how the radiation will effect the workers' health, but people they come in contact with are not at risk, the DOE said.

In a letter sent out Wednesday to the residents of Eddy and Lea counties, the DOE said radiation got into the air at very low levels, posing no more risk than a chest X-ray.

An underground facility that stores contaminated waste from Los Alamos and other nuclear sites has been closed since the incident.

Residents said they are concerned about the leak.

"I don't think the people really know what's going on at WIPP," said Carlsbad resident, Robert Ortiz. "WIPP has always been secretive."

However, Eddy County Manager Rick Rudometkin said he believes the DOE is handling the situation well.

"Whenever you have a disaster of any kind, there are always issues. You always mitigate the disaster and you move forward," Rudometkin said.

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