News West 9
February 24, 2014
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today reported new environmental monitoring data from samples collected at numerous locations on and around the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). Results indicate slightly elevated levels of airborne radioactive concentrations, which are consistent with the waste disposed of at WIPP. The samples taken demonstrate these concentrations remain well below a level of public or environmental hazard. The samples were collected by WIPP radiological and environmental monitoring personnel February 17-18 and sent to site laboratories for additional analyses.
Dose assessment modeling, which calculates potential radioactivity exposure to people, from the release data showed a potential dose of less than one millirem at each of the environmental sampling locations. A person receives about 10 millirems from a single chest x-ray procedure. The average person living in the United States receives an annual dose of about 620 millirem from exposure to naturally occurring and other sources of radiation.
Radioactive contamination is measured in a unit called disintegrations per minute, or DPM, and refers to how quickly radioactive material is decaying and releasing radioactive particles and energy. WIPP is continuously monitoring the environment, and the latest air monitoring results ranged from 1.3 to 4.4 DPM based on preliminary analyses.