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The series Half-life, a partnership between the Santa Fe New Mexican and ProPublica, explored health and safety conditions for nuclear workers at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The says it has complied with federal workers’ safety rules since the mid-1990s, but The New Mexican and ProPublica found thousands of lab workers have filed benefits claims for cancer, and hundreds more have died, as a result of work done in the last two decades — a generation in which nuclear work conditions were supposed to be safe. Reporting found these workers face steep hurdles and are more frequently denied benefits than older generations. The Department of Energy has also rarely held Los Alamos contractors accountable for safety issues and has taken steps to limit independent oversight of safety conditions at federal nuclear sites nationwide.
A leak from a drum of Cold War-era nuclear waste at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M., on Feb. 14, 2014, released radioactive contaminants that reached almost two dozen and the environment outside the ancient salt cavern turned nuclear waste dump. Documents obtained by The Santa Fe New Mexican exposed truths deliberately hidden from regulators and waste dump personnel by Los Alamos National Laboratory, where the waste originated, and the private contractors that operate the lab.