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Consequence Assessment of the WIPP Radiological Release from February 2014

Hayes, Robert Bruce

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000477
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On 14 February 2014, a continuous air monitor (CAM) alarm at the exit of panel 7 in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) underground facility caused the mine ventilation to shift from unfiltered air over to HEPA filtration for its effluent. Subsequent measurements of the effluent at both pre- and post-HEPA filtration using representative sampling demonstrated that a release had occurred. Using modeling based on measured effluent activity, onsite dose estimates were calculated and later measured via bioassay to be less than 0,1 mSv from intakes of radioactivity. The maximum offsite dose potential to nearby dwellings was modeled to be 1 µSv or less, which was consistent with air samples being taken at those dwellings during the release, demonstrating impressive accuracy and precision. No worker or public dose limits have been exceeded, and the release was substantially below the annual release limits for the WIPP site.

*North Carolina State University, Nuclear Engineering Department, 2500 Stinson Drive, 2101 Burlington Laboratories, Raleigh, NC 27695-7909.

The author declares no conflicts of interest.

For correspondence contact: the author at the above address, or email at rbhayes@ncsu.edu.

(Manuscript accepted 1 December 2015)

© 2016 by the Health Physics Society