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Possible radiation incident at WIPP

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CARLSBAD – Officials are monitoring the presence of airborne radiation at southeastern New Mexico’s nuclear waste repository.

The U.S. Department of Energy said personnel were on site Saturday to assess what officials are calling a “possible radiological event” at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. According to the DOE, an air monitor detected radiation on the plant’s underground levels around 11:30 p.m. Friday.

Officials say no employees were working underground at the time and workers on the surface have been sheltered in place as a precaution. They said nobody has been found to be contaminated.

WIPP is the nation’s first and only deep geological nuclear waste repository. It takes plutonium-contaminated waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory and other federal nuclear projects.

Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., in a statement Saturday said, “WIPP has acted quickly and cautiously to ensure the safety of personnel and the local community,” adding that full analysis of the readings is expected be available today.

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