A truck carrying defense radioactive waste headed to the Waste Isolate Pilot Plant near Carlsbad veered off the road near Las Vegas early Tuesday evening.
The southbound truck carrying three loaded containers went off Interstate 25 near the Airport Road exit around 5 p.m. The truck was coming from Idaho.
The truck stayed upright, and there was no damage. State police said no hazardous materials were released and that the driver claimed he had become ill and passed out. A radiation survey was conducted, and nothing was detected, officials said.
Even if the truck had overturned, it would have been doubtful that any leakages would occur. The heavy drums were certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and they must be able to survive intact a fall of 30 feet onto a steel-reinforced concrete pad and burn in jet fuel for 30 minutes, officials said.
State police officers responded to the incident, and one of the officers ordered an Optic photographer to leave the scene after he started taking pictures more than an hour after the incident had occurred. The officer cited a commander’s request.
State police Lt. Rick Anglada said the driver went off the road and through a right-of-way fence. He got stuck in the sand.
The driver, whose name wasn’t available, was taken to Alta Vista Regional Hospital for observation, Anglada said.
The other driver couldn’t drive anymore because he had reached his limit under federal rules, so two other drivers were brought in to take the truck to the WIPP site near Carlsbad, Anglada said. The truck stayed at Pino’s truck stop until around 12:30 a.m. today, he said.
Casey Gadbury, a WIPP official in Carlsbad, said the truck arrived at WIPP around 7:30 a.m. today. He said only a handful of such incidents have occurred in the 7.5 million miles of travel of loaded shipments since the program’s beginning in 1999.
Mayor Tony Marquez said this morning that he received a full briefing on the incident and wants the fire and police chiefs to brief the City Council on what happened. He said he also wants to update the city’s emergency response plan, which was last reviewed by the council in 1997.