CARLSBAD >> A Carlsbad lab that tests for radioactive contamination has received in the past week as many requests for appointments as it normally does in six months. The recent discovery of radiation escaping from the nearby radioactive waste storage facility has some residents looking with interest toward the monitoring center where free body scans are available.
The Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring & Research Center, located near New Mexico State University Carlsbad, was established to provide an independent entity to check for even the smallest levels of radiologic contaminants from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant 26 miles east of town.
Following the news of an underground vehicle fire at the plant, CEMRC analyzed air filters and found no additional radiation beyond normal levels.
But less than two weeks later, airborne radiation was detected on Feb. 14 in the south salt mine at WIPP. During the next week, CEMRC tests found above-ground radiation in the area of the WIPP Access Road.
Some 300 residents at a town hall meeting Monday were not noticeably anxious, but CEMRC officials report increased interest in the body scans.
“The fact that this is available and free … it’s a great resource,” Russell Hardy, CMERC director, said Tuesday.
During an average year, the monitoring center does 35 to 40 scans. Since the release of radioactive contamination from WIPP, 16 people have scheduled scans, he said.
With recent online talk of radioactive plumes reaching Texas and Oklahoma, Hardy said he has received many calls from Oklahoma.
By Martha Mauritson