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Fort Bliss: Preliminary test results show no immediate threat from contaminated bunker

Updated: Friday, July 19 2013, 08:56 PM MDT

By: Gina Benitez

FORT BLISS, Texas --

Fort Bliss officials said the public can now rest a little easier after preliminary test results reveal contaminated material around a bunker area near Biggs Army Airfield poses no immediate threat.

"This bunker behind us is the bunker that was in question. The question, the bunker that had alpha and beta contaminents," said Maj. Joe Buccino, Fort Bliss spokesman.

Tests just started but so far Fort Bliss is sure of a few things.

"First of all, the water is safe. So the water is well within the standards for water tables. We tested all six wells here on Fort Bliss and they tested normal. If they're going to test normal here, they're going to test normal in El Paso," Buccino said.

As we reported, a tip from a retiree who used to work in the weapons storage area led officials to bunker 11057.

Officials were made aware that radioactive material had been stored here back in the 1950s and 1960s -- material that may have posed a hazard to anyone who came in contact from then up until now. Test results Friday found no one who worked the bunker area was ever affected.

"The contaminants never moved off of the floor. And that's critical because the contaminants never moved onto the weapons or the equipment that was stored here. It never moved onto the people that worked on here," Buccino said.

But much work is still left to be done.

Army Environmental Command is working to assess the entire area affected.

They're looking at documents and talking to former airmen who worked the area in the '50s and '60s to possibly pinpoint the underground contamination.

For now, the biggest fears have been eased: There is no immediate threat or health risks to anyone who worked in the bunker.

"So what's in this bunker, what's in the floor of this bunker, is the equivalent of one X-ray. So really all this means is that it's good news for the community and good news for Fort Bliss," Buccino said.

Fort Bliss: Preliminary test results show no immediate threat from contaminated bunker


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