Regional
5:21 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

EPA To Deploy Monitoring Units At Carlsbad WIPP Nuclear Waste Plant

U.S Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich today announced that within the next two weeks, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will deploy mobile environmental monitoring units to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, N.M.

In a Feb. 27 letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the senators had asked the EPA to send the additional air monitors to conduct independent tests and help respond to questions that have arisen from the community about safety following the Feb. 14 radiation leak at WIPP. For a copy of the senators' letter, click HERE. For a one-page summary of EPA’s actions regarding the recent incident at WIPP, including more information about the mobile environmental monitoring units, clickHERE.

Udall and Heinrich issued the following statement: 

“It’s critical to ensure the public has access to accurate, timely information about health and safety while the recovery efforts at WIPP continue. As a public health agency, the EPA can provide independent monitoring and analysis about the safety of the air at WIPP and in the Carlsbad community. EPA has made it clear that it does not believe that the radioactive releases from WIPP are a public health danger, and we fully expect these additional monitors will provide extra support to help ease any concerns that the public may have. We appreciate EPA’s ongoing assistance to the Carlsbad community.”

The EPA is a key public health agency responsible for setting standards for acceptable levels of public exposure to both natural and man-made sources of radiation in air, water, and soils. It is the federal environmental regulator of WIPP and it has authority over external radiation releases. EPA has assisted in a similar way in the past – for example, the agency deployed radiation monitors to the Los Alamos area during fires in 2000 and 2011. 

For background on EPA’s role in WIPP oversight, click HERE