State OKs reopening troubled nuclear waste repository
ALBUQUERQUE | New Mexico regulators have approved restarting normal operations at the nation’s only underground nuclear waste repository, a major step for U.S. officials aiming to reopen the facility nearly three years after a radiation leak shut it down indefinitely.
Two letters obtained Thursday by The Associated Press outline the state Environment Department’s findings from a recent inspection of the Waste
Isolation Pilot Plant. Regulators found two minor permit violations but said those were addressed immediately.
The site run by the U.S. Department of Energy has been closed since a radiation release in February 2014 contaminated much of the underground disposal area. The leak stemmed from a chemical reaction inside a container of waste.
The shutdown halted the shipment of tons of Cold War-era waste from sites across the country, compromising the government’s multibillion-dollar cleanup campaign and resulting in an overhaul of policies and procedures across the nuclear complex.
The price tag for mitigating the contamination at the site in southeastern New Mexico is expected to exceed a half-billion dollars, which does not include costs stemming from a multimillion-dollar settlement with the state for numerous permit violations.