The News Today
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8.6.20
Plutonium Spill

US Investigating “Breach” at Nuclear Weapons Facility

July 8th 20__Dan Robitzski__Filed Under: Hard Science
Department of Energy/Victor Tangermann

Nuclear Leak

U.S. officials are investigating what may have been a dangerous radiation leak at the Los Alamos National Laboratory that could have affected as many as 15 workers.

The leak, which occurred on June 8, was first disclosed this week, ABC News reports. While the leak poses no risk to the public or outside world, the 15 workers may have been exposed to hazardous levels of radiation from a plutonium sample, making this just one more in the Los Alamos’s long list of safety lapses.

Ramping Up

Until 2011, Los Alamos manufactured the plutonium cores that work as detonators in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. But repeated safety issues and workplace hazards stopped production until now: ABC News reports that the facility is planning to resume core production and make as many as 30 each year.

But because the investigation is still ongoing and the workers are still being monitored, it has yet to be determined whether this breach will delay or otherwise halt those plans yet again.

Active Cleanup

According to the lab, ABC reports, the facility has now been cleaned up. The remaining effort is focused on monitoring the exposed workers for signs of radiation poisoning or other health complications — and, hopefully, making sure similar accidents don’t keep happening.

“Laboratory employees responded promptly and appropriately and cleared the room in a safe manner,” reads a Los Alamos statement.

READ MORE: US nuclear lab investigates breach at plutonium facility [ABC News]

More on nuclear weapons: Lawsuit Alleges Coverup at US Nuclear Weapon Facility