Nuclear waste dump leak exposes workers to radiation

For folks who have lived in Pennsylvania for a long time, it might seem hard to believe that the Three Mile Island nuclear plant accident happened 35 years ago this month. For a whole generation of people in this country, the words “Three Mile Island” conjure up the dangers of nuclear energy when it is not tended to with the appropriate oversight. A partial meltdown at the plant led to cleanup that lasted for more than a decade and cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

There are still many nuclear plants around the country, and the danger of radiation from the waste these plants generate is quite real. Another source of potentially radioactive waste comes from the building of nuclear weapons in the United States. An underground facility in New Mexico is in charge of storing the waste from these projects.

For 15 years, there were no incidents of radiation being released. However, that streak is over after a recent incident at the facility allowed the dangerous materials to leak toxic particles. More than a dozen workers at the nuclear waste dump tested positive for radiation exposure as a result.

Officials say that it could be several weeks before they are able to find the source of the leak and determine what went wrong. They also say that the risk to public health is low, but that is likely of little comfort to the workers exposed to the contamination.

It remains to be seen how problematic the workers’ health might become from the industrial accident. Those who suffer damage in the long term or in the short term might consider seeking legal advice to make sure that they are taken care of as a result of the mishap.

Source: USA Today, “13 exposed to radiation at U.S. plant,” Feb. 27, 2014

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