Fort Bliss Radiation Discovered, Investigation Underway in Texas

Image: Fort Bliss Radiation Discovered, Investigation Underway in Texas

Wednesday, 17 Jul 2013 04:09 PM

By Ken Mandel

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Hazardous radiation detected at a former Fort Bliss nuclear weapons bunker is being investigated to determine whether people have been exposed, according to Army officials.

Officials told The Associated Press that 30 people are being tested. They’ve been taking inventory and performing other tasks at the bunker.

"We are unable to assess the level of risk," Fort Bliss spokesman Maj. Joe Buccino told the AP.

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The radiation is the result of contaminated residue buried at the West Texas post during the Cold War era, when the Air Force manned the facility, Post leaders told AP. Officials were alerted earlier this year when a veteran stationed there in the 1950s told about an incident involving nuclear weapons waste that occurred during maintenance. He said the bunker floor was painted to lessen the risk for contaminants.

An investigation revealed radiation levels inside Building 11507 at Biggs Army Airfield – in an area of igloo-shaped bunkers known as “Snake Pit – that, as well as other nearby bunkers, are used to store rifles and other weapons. The equipment is used to train National Guard units preparing for overseas deployment, though official feel that no radiation was transferred from the equipment to the soldiers.

Buccino told The El Paso Times that the radiation levels are low and the contamination is contained to the bunker, which is less than two miles from civilian neighborhoods. Risks to the community are “fairly negligible,” he told the Times.

Those stationed in the bunker are in greater danger. An investigation a few weeks earlier discovered levels of alpha and beta radiation in the bunker, but not the more dangerous gamma radiation, Buccino said.

"We sealed it, we closed it off," he said.

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