EL PASO, Texas - According to Fort Bliss officials more than 70 people have called the 24-hour hotline set up for anyone who has been inside a bunker on Biggs Army Airfield where initial tests revealed low levels of radiation.
ABC-7 spoke with one of those people Thursday. Efrain Zamora, Jr., is 71 years old, but up until about a year ago, he worked for a defense contractor as the key custodian for several Biggs Army Airfield bunkers, including the one in question, which he used to sweep several times a week.
"I was surprised and talked to my wife and we got concerned about it," Zamora said after learning of the situation on ABC-7.
Between 2007-12 he spent up to six or seven hours a week helping load and unload weapons for the National Guard inside bunker number 11507, in an area on Biggs Army Airfield affectionately called "the Snake Pit."
"We had to go in there, unload and store them in the bunker," Zamora said. "But before we did that, we made sure there was enough room and it was presentable. We had to sweep it out and clean."
Zamora, whose biggest previous concern at the site was rattlesnakes, black widows and scorpions, is sure that when he swept, he brought home particles on his clothes from the bunker, where low levels of alpha and beta radiation have been found.
He admits it's been tough to sleep since learning about the situation on Monday.
"It's a big concern," he said.
Zamora and his wife, who have yet to see a doctor but are scheduled to see one next week, are more concerned about their family, including their children and grandchildren, who used to live with them.
"She's concerned about my grandkids because one's 12 and one's 17," Zamora said. "They still got a long way to go with their lives."
Zamora admitted he's angry with the Air Force and Army for not properly mitigating the situation when the bunker changed hands back in the 1960s.
"I think they should have investigated once the Air Force turned over the bunker to the Army," he said.
Asked if he would have gone in that bunker if he'd known nuclear weapons had been assembled there he replied: "Of course not, no ... Not a chance."
Zamora said he found what appeared to be a rocket fin in the bunker three years ago and it was quickly removed, but he saw no Air Force markings on it.
Fort Bliss officials have scheduled a news conference for 9 a.m. Friday morning, where we expect to learn the results of the investigation, including a water inspection.
Fort Bliss officials are also expected to make available several more people who have been inside the bunker recently, like Zamora, and called the hotline.