USW: Include Workers in Response to Leak at N.M. Nuclear Waste Facility

Feb 28, 2014, 17:28 ET from United Steelworkers (USW)

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 28, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers (USW) today called on the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct full medical testing of workers and include the union as a partner in its investigation after a radiation leak at a nuclear waste isolation plant near Carlsbad, N.M.

Initial tests showed that 13 workers were exposed to radiation following the Feb. 14th leak.

"The health and safety of workers and the surrounding community is our priority. We are working closely with local union members in New Mexico to assess and address their concerns about potential exposure, and we call upon the DOE to do the same," said USW Vice President Carol Landry, who oversees the union's nuclear sector. "We expect all of these workers to be afforded the opportunity for appropriate medical testing, and we expect the DOE to include union workers and safety and health experts in the investigation as it progresses."

USW Local 12-9477 represents about 300 union workers at the plant, which has taken waste left from the research and production of nuclear weapons and stored it underground since 1999.

"We have been in contact with the DOE and the Mine Safety and Health Administration about our potential involvement in the investigation," Landry said. "We remain cautiously optimistic that the exposure in this case was limited, but we will continue to monitor the situation until all of our members' concerns are addressed."

The USW is the largest industrial union in North America, representing workers in a range of industries including metals, mining, rubber, paper and forestry, oil refining, health care, security, hotels, and municipal governments and agencies.

Jim Frederick: (724) 462-5364,

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)