(NaturalNews) Very few Americans who don't live near it have ever heard of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), a federal nuclear waste repository approximately 26 miles east of Carlsbad, New Mexico, but some experts are saying that something very serious happened there recently -- something that could affect tens of millions of Americans. However, you're not likely to read much about it in the institutional media.
According to the Carlsbad Current-Argus, a local newspaper, "traces of radiation" were found in February northwest of the WIPP following tests by the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center, a division of the College of Engineering at New Mexico State University. The tests showed "evidence of trace amounts of americium and plutonium on an air filter" at a nearby sampling station off the WIPP access road.
At the time of the incident Russell Hardy, the director for the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center, said in a press release:
"The levels detected during this time period are higher than the normal background levels of radioactivity from transuranic elements commonly found at this sampling station, thus their presence during this specific time frame appears to indicate a small release of radioactive particles from the WIPP underground exhaust shaft in the brief moments following when the radiation event occurred and when the WIPP ventilation system shifted to the filtration mode."
Nothing to worry about
Hardy said that the amounts were detected between the dates of February 11 and February 16, adding that the levels were "very low and are well below any level of public and environmental hazard."
Added John Heaton, the chairman of the Carlsbad Nuclear Task Force: "At this time there is no concern. We definitely know that the amounts are miniscule. I think the risks are extremely low and I certainly have no worries about it personally."
At the time, officials said they could only speculate about what caused the release. "You have to realize that all the containers are closed and sealed (underground in WIPP). Until they are able to go back down and examine the waste, we could find out it's something even different than we think," said Heaton.
A week prior to the detection, a salt truck caught fire underground at the WIPP's north mine, causing all personnel to be evacuated. Heaton and other officials said that they don't believe the release was related to that fire.
"We don't believe there is a connection between the earlier salt hauler truck event and this event," said Roger Nelson, acting federal Department of Energy spokesman said in February.
Within days, however, officials were changing their story. ABC News reported on February 28:
"Investigators now admit that the problem is serious."
National Public Radio reported:
"A piece of salt is believed to have fallen from a cavern ceiling and crushed drums of waste. ... samples from 13 employees on duty the night of the accident indicated they had inhaled radioactive americium."
Now, months later, some experts think the situation is dire.
Chris Harris, former licensed Senior Reactor Operator and engineer, said June 19, 2014 at 33:45 into the interview: "I do believe the part about it being a hydrogen explosion [at WIPP]-- due to the decomposition of the green kitty litter -- that causes a whole bunch of problems, and one of them is that this is a huge dirty bomb." [See the interview here.]
Also, Insight New Mexico interviewed Don Hancock, director of the Nuclear Waste Safety program and administrator at Southwest Research and Information Center, on June 12, 2014. At 4:00 in Hancock said: "They haven't been able to physically get to the one or more containers that... exploded, or had some kind of a deflagration. They had pictures of one container that's clearly breached, has holes, the lid is off, there are signs that there's melting around, small amounts of fire, etc... So clearly something major happened. We still don't know how many containers are involved, I think it's very likely that its more than the one... the reason I think there's probably more than is while this particular container has 16 or 17 curies of plutonium and americium [592 billion to 629 billion becquerels] in it, which is a much larger amount than what the average container is, there are containers including ones sitting right beside it that have more radioactivity. We don't know how much came out, but from what we do know, it looks to me that it was more than what could have come out of a single container." [See that interview here.]