Officials testing for possible radiation leak at New Mexico military nuclear waste site

WIPP. Photo: DOE.

Last Friday night, elevated levels of radioactive particles were measured at an underground nuclear waste site near Carlsbad, New Mexico [Map].

Here is the Department of Energy's official statement on the incident [PDF].

Snip: "DOE emphasizes there is no danger to human health or the environment. WIPP’s system of air monitors and protective filtration system continue to function as designed. The source of the airborne radiation is still being investigated."

A spokesman said the incident "looked like the first real alarm since the plant opened in 1999." At the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), federal officials are testing for radiation in air samples at the site "where radioactive waste, such as plutonium used in defense research and nuclear weapon making, is dumped half a mile below ground in an ancient salt formation." [Reuters].

Local coverage at the Carlsbad Current-Argus.

"Operators prepare drums of contact-handled transuranic waste for loading into transportation containers," headed for WIPP. Image: US Department of Energy.

WIPP at sunrise. Image: DOE.