NM nuclear repository monitored for radiation

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — Officials are monitoring the presence of airborne radiation at the underground site in southeastern New Mexico where the federal government seals away its low-grade nuclear waste and where a fire earlier this month prompted an evacuation.

The Department of Energy says samples were taken at the surface after an air monitor detected radiation on the underground levels of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant around 11:30 p.m. Friday.

No workers were underground at the time, and no contamination, injuries or damage have been reported.

Energy Department spokesman Roger Nelson says the 139 workers aboveground at the site near Carlsbad were told earlier Saturday to stay where they were as a precaution. He says none of them tested positive for contamination, and all non-essential personnel were released.

Nelson says surface samples show no contamination, implying the leak was "not significant."

He says the cause of the leak isn't known yet but that the sensitive monitors have been triggered in the past by radon fluctuations.

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