Few Attend Town Hall on Mishap at Nuke Dump

Mar 7, 2014

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — Few people attended a town hall meeting Thursday as the U.S. Department of Energy released more information on its efforts to recover from a radiation leak last month at the nation's only underground nuclear waste dump.

Several dozen residents, workers, elected officials and others turned out for the evening meeting, but the large auditorium at the edge of town was nearly empty.

Questions about what caused the leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the extent of the contamination and the future of the federal government's national nuclear cleanup efforts have been swirling for weeks now.

Some of the uncertainty was quelled late Wednesday when officials announced that the level of radioactive particles being captured by monitoring stations in the Carlsbad area had decreased significantly and were close to normal.

Officials said further testing on the 13 workers who were at the plant at the time of the leak shows they aren't likely to experience any serious health effects.

Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway told the town meeting audience that the systems at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant worked, with filters capturing most of the radiation that escaped from the underground mine. Still, he says the investigation needs to be swift and efficient.