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. Study: Early Los Alamos toxin leaks higher

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by Staff Writers
Los Alamos, N.M. (UPI) Jul 25, 2008
Contamination in the early years at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico may have been higher than originally reported, health officials say.

The Los Alamos Historical Document Retrieval and Assessment Project of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has been studying and declassifying documents about contaminant releases at the lab. Investigators said they found plutonium and other toxic contaminants leaked into the air surrounding the lab in its early years of operation, The Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper reported Friday,

Sites on a small portion of the lab between 1948 and 1955 released more than 80 times the amount of airborne plutonium than the lab originally estimated, investigators found.

The total for those sites was 58 curies of plutonium, compared with the 0.724 curies the lab originally reported in the early 1950s, said Tom Widner, a health scientist leading the project. A curie is an amount of radioactive material that gives off 37 billion radioactive or rays per second.

Other areas could have added more curies of plutonium to that number, he said, explaining record-keeping at the time was not good.

"Airborne plutonium releases warrant an investigation more detailed than our preliminary screening," Widner said during an update meeting.

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California passes strict shipping pollution laws
Los Angeles (AFP) July 25, 2008
Californian environmental regulators have approved stringent guidelines aimed at forcing ocean-going vessels visiting the state's ports to use cleaner fuel, a statement said Friday.

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