Many Pennsylvania readers who recall the events at Three Mile Island may have heard about a recent radiation leak at an underground nuclear disposal site in New Mexico. It is the first one in the 15 years since the Waste Isolation Pilot Project began receiving waste from federal nuclear bomb building sites.
All people working at the site were tested, and 13 tested positive for radiation exposure. Officials stated air readings around the plant indicated a leak occurred in one of the containers stored underground. The elevated readings do not indicate a public endangerment, and speculation is that an underground ceiling collapsed or a container was punctured by a forklift. The incident is believed to be unrelated to a truck fire that occurred nine days prior to the leak.
Neither the contractor nor the U.S. Department of Energy had any further comments on the initial test results. The project is the only facility currently capable of storing tools and clothing that have been contaminated by plutonium.
The effects of a workplace illness resulting from hazardous environmental or industrial conditions may not be readily ascertainable. In Pennsylvania, employers are required to carry insurance to cover illness or injury caused on the job. If a worker is exposed to toxic chemicals or other dangerous substances in the course of employment, it may be advisable to consult an attorney to learn what workers' compensation benefits may be available. The attorney may be able to discuss with the client what remedies would be available with respect to any long-term effects of such exposure.
Source: NFIB.com, "Workers' Compensation Laws - State by State Comparison" June 2, 2011
Source: USA Today, "13 exposed to radiation at U.S. plant", February 27, 2014