Local political leaders react to possible radioactive waste at Biggs Army Airfield

Local political leaders react to possible radioactive waste at Biggs Army Airfield
Congressman Beto O'Rourke
Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 9:27am

Local political leaders are keeping tabs on the developing and potentially hazardous situation at Biggs Army Airfield, this after it was announced Tuesday they discovered residue of what appears to be uranium inside a bunker.

According to Fort Bliss, when the U.S. Air Force had control of Biggs Army Airfield in the 1950s, personnel used the facility for building and maintaining nuclear weapons.

But what officials may not have expected back then is for radioactive residue to remain in the area more than half a century later, after it had been reportedly "remediated."

Congressman Beto O'Rourke received the news directly from Major General Sean MacFarland just Monday. He arrived in Washington, D.C. Tuesday.

"I was absolutely shocked and talking to General MacFarland it sounded like he was shocked too," he said.

He will be staying in touch with MacFarland as the site continues to be investigated, but is not calling for Congress to get involved yet.

"After we ensure the health and safety of those who may have been exposed, I think one of the next questions we have to answer is how this possibly could have happened," he said.

U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego sent a statement, saying "It is important that we be guided by facts and not fear. The safety and well-being of our servicemen and women is the top priority."

However, he is demanding action from Washington.

The Pentagon must act responsibly and investigate any other military installations that may also need to be tested.

New Mayor Oscar Leeser says he's keeping a close eye on the developments.

"The situation at Fort Bliss is one I will closely monitor. At this moment fort bliss officials are still assessing the issue and I have asked them to keep me updated on the pending test."

Fort Bliss officials say they expect to have an update on the situation Friday, including more details on the possible effects on "water tables, health status of the current bunker workers, beta particles in the air and ground at the disposal sites and perhaps some more."

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