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CARLSBAD (AP) — Officials investigating a leak from the federal government’s only underground nuclear waste dump tried to reassure skeptical southeastern New Mexico residents Monday night that their health is safe.
More than 250 people attended a two-hour meeting to ask questions about back-to-back accidents at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad and the first-known release of radiation from the repository.
“I’m just a mom,” said Anna Hovrud, “and my first reaction was to start praying. ... Basically I am not understanding about two-thirds of what has been said here. Is there a chance we could be exposed to radiation, that we are being poisoned somehow, while we are waiting for these samples?”
Joe Franco, who manages the Department of Energy’s Carlsbad office, told Hovrud “there is no risk from this event that would be a hazard to you or your children.”
Farok Sharif, president of the Nuclear Waste Partnership that runs the plant, told Hovrud his family also lives in the community. And he said he has been to the site repeatedly in the past week — without protective gear — to gather readings “because I know it is safe.”
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