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The US Department of Energy is monitoring for a "possible radiological event" at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico's nuclear waste repository. Officials have been called in after an air monitor detected radiation in the facility’s underground levels late Friday night, when no employees were on shift. Workers on the surface have been sheltered in place as a precaution.
These are radionuclides that are of a hazard if inhaled but it is not the kind of radiation that penetrates, and so the primary concern for the release of this nature is (through) the ventilation passageway and that's why our employees are sequestered in place," said Roger Nelson, a Department of Energy spokesman. WIPP stores waste that primarily radiates alpha and beta-type radiation, according to Nelson. "I can't tell you the amount or level but they were elevated and above normal, above background (levels)," Nelson said of the radiation that was detected airborne near Panel 7, Room 7, in the south salt mine.