BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Radiological control technicians (RCTs) at the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad identified low levels of radioactive contamination Saturday evening in a small amount of free standing liquid in the bottom of a TRUPACT-II container. A TRUPACT-II can hold up to 14 fifty-five gallon waste drums.
According to a news release, the waste containers were placed back inside the TRUPACT-II and operations were paused and placed in a safe configuration.
“All personnel were instructed to evacuate the (Contact-Handled) CH Bay. RCTs conducted hand and foot frisks of everyone in the CH Bay and no contamination was found,” the release said.
All personnel were initially instructed to remain indoors. No personnel were in the underground area of the facility, the release said.
“No airborne radiation monitors alarmed inside the CH Bay. There is no indication of airborne contamination at this time. There is off site release and no risk to members of the public or the environment,” it read.
The WIPP Emergency Operations Center and Joint Information Center were both activated at the Skeen-Whitlock building in Carlsbad to respond to the incident, however, WIPP officials announced at 11 p.m. Saturday that emergency protocols had been deactivated.
A WIPP spokesperson told the Los Alamos Reporter Monday afternoon that an investigation as to the source of the liquid is being conducted. He declined to say whether or not the waste in question was shipped from Los Alamos National Laboratory.