Economics for the Earth Blog

Friends of the Earth Statement: DOE workers exposed to deadly radiation

Posted Feb. 28, 2014 / Posted by: Kate Colwell

Yesterday the Department of Energy revealed that 13 workers at its Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico, known as WIPP, inhaled plutonium and americium following a Feb. 14 release of these elements from the plant. In response to this news, Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica issued the following statement:

“Our hearts go out to the workers contaminated by this terrible accident and we hope that Department of Energy discloses if it any other workers were contaminated. A single particle of radiotoxic plutonium lodged in a human lung can cause fatal cancer.

"It’s unconscionable that the DOE allowed workers to return to the WIPP site mere hours after detecting the radioactive release.  It seems that workers were contaminated by radioactive materials that should have been kept underground but were found at the surface.  Even weeks later, DOE hasn’t said what caused this accident, let alone whether or not it is truly contained.”


Ben Schreiber, Climate & energy program director, (202) 222-0752,

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