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Union awaits info on WIPP leak

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By Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A union representing some 200 workers at the nation’s only underground nuclear waste dump said Tuesday its wants to be sure employees are safe when the repository reopens after a radiation leak that exposed at least 13 people.
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad has been off-limits to most workers for nearly three weeks. Only essential workers have been called to duty and others have been using the down time to keep current with regular training requirements at an off-site training center, said officials from United Steelworkers of America.
Union officials said they’re waiting for more information from the U.S. Department of Energy and Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC, the contractor that runs the repository.
“What we’re trying to understand is what happened, where this contamination came from and then understand how to correct this problem and make certain that something similar is not going to happen again,” said Jim Frederick, assistant director of the union’s health, safety and environment department.
Some of the 13 workers who were exposed during the Feb. 14 night shift were union members. Another 140 employees showed up for work the following day, and union officials say if there’s any doubt about whether they were exposed, more tests should be done.


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