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NM nuclear dump officials say environment is safe

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CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) _ Officials investigating a leak from federal government's only underground nuclear waste dump are telling skeptical southeastern New Mexico residents that their health is safe.

More than 250 people attended a mostly calm two-hour meeting Monday night to discuss recent events at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad.
 
Officials concede that the first-ever known release of radiation from one of the underground waste storage tunnels more than a week ago is very serious. But they insist the elevated amounts of radiation that have been detected in and around the plant offer no more risk than a dental X-ray or an airline flight.
 
But not everyone is convinced. One resident questioned how officials could make such assertions when so many samples have yet to be analyzed and so little is yet known about what happened.
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