Army investigates radiation exposure at Fort Bliss

By: The Associated Press
July 16, 2013 Updated: July 16, 2013 at 11:33 am
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photo - Soldiers approach armored vehicles after a training exercise at Fort Bliss, Texas, in January. (AP file)
Soldiers approach armored vehicles after a training exercise at Fort Bliss, Texas, in January. (AP file) 

FORT BLISS, Texas — Army investigators have detected radiation at a former nuclear weapons bunker at Fort Bliss and they're determining whether people on the West Texas post have been exposed, officials said Tuesday.

Post leaders said contaminated residue was buried in the 1950s and 1960s, when the base was operated by the Air Force. A man who worked there at the time contacted officials earlier this year expressing concern in case additional housing were to be built on the sprawling post, where officials launched an investigation.

They found levels of radiation in a bunker at Biggs Army Airfield that, along with other bunkers nearby, is used to store rifles and other weaponry. Soldiers preparing for deployment use the equipment for training prior to departure overseas, though it's not believed that any radiation transferred to the equipment used by the soldiers.

Still, officials said about 30 people have been working in the bunker taking inventory and conducting other tasks. They are being tested to determine whether they've been exposed.

Fort Bliss spokesman Maj. Joe Buccino said the levels of radiation are low and the contamination is contained to the area where the bunker is located, at least 1.5 miles from residential neighborhoods.

"We are unable to assess the level of risk," Buccino said.

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