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Local expert explains proper clean-up for radioactive residue

MGN Online
Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 1:06am

Radioactive material found on Fort Bliss raises questions about how the waste should be cleaned up.

Government officials and health experts reassure the public that they are not in any immediate danger from the radioactive material found.

Local4News spoke with Dr. John Walton, civil engineering professor at UTEP, who said that cleaning nuclear waste could cost up to millions of dollars, depending on the amount of time it takes to clean up a site and how much material is found.

Army officials launched an investigation immediately after receiving reports of possible contamination on Fort Bliss.

They suspended activity in and around the contaminated area, and fenced it off entirely.

Dr. Walton said that is the proper way to begin cleaning chemical waste.

"You don't want to expose the people who are cleaning up the radioactive waste at the same time and you also don't want it to spread," he said. "They typically would take plastic or something and isolate the whole area, and maybe before that, use some geophysical equipment to look at the exact location where everything is at, then dig it up very, very carefully."

Dr. Walton said hazardous material removed from a site is normally re-packaged and then taken to a disposal site.   

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