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Fort Bliss investigating possible radioactive materials on post

Updated: Thursday, July 18 2013, 12:26 PM MDT

By: Melissa Gundersen

FORT BLISS, Texas -- The map attached to this article is something Fort Bliss officials want everyone to see. About a mile and a half East of the Fort Bliss Golf Course at Biggs Army Airfield, and around 1 foot below the ground, Fort Bliss says there may be sealed containers filled with radioactive materials.

"It has come to our attention that the Air Force stored radioactive material during the 1950s and 1960s at a remote limited access building," said Maj. Joe Buccino, Fort Bliss public affairs officer.

Fort Bliss didn't know about this until about two months ago, when a retiree who worked in the weapons storage area called the Air Force with concerns. Buccino said there may be hazardous material, such as uranium residue, inside one of the bunkers. Buccino said uranium residue may be contaminating nearly 100 rifles and machine guns used by soldiers, as well as the surrounding area.

The big problem: Epoxy paint was once used inside the bunker to lower the risk of contamination, but now that paint is chipped. That means radioactive residue could be hazardous to soldiers.

"We don't know the scope of the issue, we don't know, again, if it's nothing or fairly substantial," said Mark Cauthers, Fort Bliss deputy garrison commander.

As of now, Fort Bliss post leaders aren't aware of anyone who has gotten sick because of these hazardous materials. For Bliss is investigating. Post leaders have closed off the area in question for testing.

"We're being cautious. Weapons aren't being utilized, and we’ll just lock the facility until we know more from the experts," said Cauthers.

Buccino says the closest homes to the questionable area are more than a mile and a half away, so homeowners shouldn't be at risk. For anyone afraid they've been sickened, however, Fort Bliss has set up a 24-hour call center. There are four different call numbers:

(915) 744-1255
(915) 744-1962
(915) 744-8263
(915) 744-8264

Fort Bliss investigating possible radioactive materials on post


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