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Plutonium Release at U.S. Nuclear Facility: "We Don't Know What Happened"
Feb 22, 2014
On February 20, 2014, AlertsUSA issued the following Flash message to subscriber mobile devices:
2/20 Dept. of Energy confirms airborne release of Plutonium-239 & Americium-241 from underground nuke waste site near Carlsbad, NM. Cause still unknown. Monitoring..
What You Need To Know
On Thurs of this week AlertsUSA subscribers were notified via a text message to their mobile device that the Department of Energy had confirmed the airborne release of Plutonium-239 & Americium-241 from underground nuclear waste storage site near Carlsbad, NM.
Known as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), the facility is the nation's only licensed deep geological nuclear waste repository. Located approximately 26 miles east of Carlsbad, New Mexico, the facility is the nation's solution for permanent disposal of the Department of Energy's cold war legacy transuranic waste that has been stored at 23 former nuclear-weapons-complex and generation sites located across 13 states.
The term transuranic refers to artificially made radioactive elements, such as neptunium, plutonium, americium, and others, that have atomic numbers higher than uranium in the periodic table of elements. None of these elements are stable and each of them decays radioactively into other elements.
The event began late on 2/15 when air monitors detected elevated radiation levels in the plants underground storage complex located more than 2000 feet beneath the surface. No employees were working underground at the time and those on the surface sheltered in place as a precaution.
According to Russell Hardy, director of the center, the radiation levels are the highest ever detected at or around the site. The Department of Energy states they are still not aware of the cause of the radiation release in underground complex as workers have been unable to get back inside, let alone how radiation managed to get to the surface, if this was a one-time event or an ongoing release.
Despite the fact that everyone, at least publicly, is shrugging their shoulders as to the cause and severity, Department of Energy Carlsbad Field Office Manager Joe Franco assured the public in a news conference Thursday afternoon that the environment, personnel and public are not at risk.
It is interesting to note that despite this claim of no risk to the public, the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center is providing free lung and body scans to concerned adult citizens living within a 100-mile radius of the WIPP facility.
AlertsUSA Threat Journal reminds readers that rule number one in crisis management is to control the message. As is always the case with public reporting on nuclear accidents, be it the Fukushima disaster in Japan, environmental contamination and health hazards from failing storage tanks at the Hanford site in Washington State or any of the dozens of other radiological incidents and unintentional releases occurring annually at nuclear facilities around the country, all formal statements invariably include the standard boilerplate material indicating "no current threat to the public."
Given all the unknowns, what is firmly established is that americium and plutonium have been released into the atmosphere. Both elements primarily emit alpha radiation rather than beta or gamma radiation. External exposure to alpha particles isn't a major health risk because they have a low penetration depth and are usually stopped by skin. On the other hand, when alpha-emitters are breathed in or ingested, which is the primary concern with this incident, they are extremely hazardous, can irradiate internal organs and are capable of causing considerable chromosomal damage and cancer.
Read more about this important story by clickingHERE.
AlertsUSA continues to closely monitor the situation at the WIPP facility and will issue additional alert messages to subscriber mobile devices as events warrant.
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On February 19, 2014, AlertsUSA issued the following Flash message to subscriber mobile devices:
2/19 DHS warning airlines of potential threat involving explosives hidden in shoes on overseas flights bound for U.S.. Said to be"very recent intel." Developing...
What You Need To Know
On Wed of this week AlertsUSA subscribers were notified via a text message to their mobile device that the Department of Homeland Security is warning domestic and international airlines of intelligence suggesting an increased threat involving explosives hidden in shoes on overseas flights bound for United States. This threat is reported to be completely separate and unrelated to warnings issued earlier this month regarding explosives hidden within cosmetics and liquids.
The threat information was sent to airlines flying to the U.S. from approximately thirty airports in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. These include Amsterdam's Schiphol, London's Heathrow and Gatwick, and the airport in Manchester.
Media reports invariably quote unnamed intelligence sources indicating the threat emanates from al Qaeda's Yemen-based affiliate formally known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Amongst the leaders is an innovative Saudi bomb maker, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, who has surprisingly managed to survive two separate drone strikes, once in 2011 and again in 2013. It is believed that the group may have come up with new bomb design intended to evade airport security measures.
While downplayed by DHS and dismissed by many bloggers as a scare tactic, the general threat posed by AQAP is quite substantive and demonstrable. As previously reported by both AlertsUSA and Threat Journal on a number of occasions, AQAP has been directly implicated in a number of plots against on the commercial aviation sector. These include:
The 2001 attempt at blowing up a passenger aircraft by radical Muslim and al Qaeda affiliated Shoe Bomber, Richard Reid.
The 2009 attempt at blowing up a passenger aircraft flying from Amsterdam to Detroit by radical Muslim and al Qaeda affiliated underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
The 2010 cargo plane bomb plot within which explosives were built into printer toner cartridges and shipped to the U.S. via FedEx and UPS. One of these bombs is believed to have caused the crash of a UPS cargo aircraft flying between Dubai and Cologne Bonn Airport in Germany
Read the rest of this important article by clickingHERE.
AlertsUSA continues to closely monitor the aviation security sector and will immediately notify service subscribers of changes to the threat environment as events warrant.
Additional Alerts Issued This Week by AlertsUSA
2/18 US Embassy Kiev issues warning re risks of travel to Ukraine, advises Americans to maintain a low profile, get off the streets and remain indoors. Monitoring..
2/18 Thousands of riot police and gov troops in crackdown on anti-gov protesters in Kiev, Ukraine. Live stream via RT: http://bit.ly/1c11RZa
2/17 AlertsUSA monitoring hijack of Ethiopian Air flt 702 (Boeing 767), destination Rome. Plane has landed in Geneva, CH. negotiators and Special Forces on scene.
Travel Security Update
The U.S. Dept. of State is the authoritative federal source for information on the security situation at travel destinations worldwide. With tensions rapidly increasing in most regions, readers planning on international travel, even to such common destinations as Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean Islands, are strongly encouraged to do a little research on the security situation prior to departure.
Our social media channels provide a steady steam of important news and resources between issues of Threat Journal with little or no overlap of content. Combined with the AlertsUSA service for instant mobile notification of the really bad developments, you have an unmatched set of tools to keep yourself fully up to speed on the nation's threat environment. With times getting worse by the day, we urge you to utilize these resources.
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