(NaturalNews) Back in February 2014, alarms sounded off at the Nuclear Waste Isolation Pilot Plant outside of Carlsbad, New Mexico. The radiation detection alarms signaled that higher-than-normal airborne radiation was present and could be making its way outside into the environment through the facility's ventilation system.
The only US nuclear waste disposal site has been compromised
The federal facility, built in 1999, contains nuclear waste disposal rooms which are mined out of salt formations 2,150 feet below the surface of the desert. That's equivalent to two-fifths of a mile below the desert floor. Can nuclear waste really be harnessed and disposed of deep within the earth?
The detection of elevated airborne radiation in February prompted the plant to shutoff filtered air coming to and from the facility -- a first-of-its-kind emergency response. Seventeen workers may have been affected, and questions still remain on how this radiation may be spreading to the surrounding environment.
New leak confirms "slightly elevated" levels of airborne radioactivity; occasional low level releases now anticipated
Now, as of March 11, new air-sampling data indicate that there has been yet another small radiation release just a month after the February 14 nuclear release. Engineers at the toxic waste plant believe that the releases may be coming from previous deposits that have accumulated in the inner surface of the facility's exhaust ductwork.
The Department of Energy confirmed that only "slightly elevated" levels of airborne radioactivity were detected in February, but federal officials now concur that occasional low-level releases may be anticipated now and in the future. This raises questions in the minds of those whole live near the desert toxic waste repository.
Federal officials investigating nuclear facility workers' faulty procedures
The nuclear waste plant, which is now shuttered, has recently come under investigation by federal officials. An incident that occurred on February 5 involving an underground truck fire may be linked to the faulty radiation leaks that began on February 14.
Federal officials are now accusing the plant's workers of failing to maintain equipment and failing to correct procedures that regulators have signified before. The investigation finds that workers lack adequate safety training, oversight and a proper response plan for emergencies.
New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich said, "We still need a full understanding of what caused the radiation leak that occurred on Feb. 14 and the steps that need to be taken to ensure the safety of WIPP personnel and the Carlsbad community."
Residents of Carlsbad, New Mexico, want more answers
Residents in Carlsbad are seeking answers, voicing their frustration at town hall meetings. One Carlsbad resident, Karen Armendarez, told The Associate Press, "We are only 26 miles away, and a lot of uncertainty... is frightening."
Many residents believe that the government is keeping them in the dark. The Department of Energy responded to news of the nuclear leaks, saying that the extent of the contamination and the levels of radiation are miniscule and pose no threat.
John Heaton, who is part of the Carlsbad nuclear task force, stated, "We feel like now, all the releases of information are being controlled at the D.C. level, if you will." [emphasis added]
While much of the information remains unknown, while questions remain about the government's cleanup efforts and further prevention strategies, it's becoming clear that nuclear waste is seeping from its grave, ever so slightly, rife with all its destructive, cell-deforming powers.