State withdraws permit for expansion of nuke dump

Posted at: 03/22/2014 10:03 AM
By: The Associated Press

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico regulators have withdrawn a preliminary permit for an expansion of the federal government's troubled nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico.

Citing recent back-to-back incidents that included a radiation release that contaminated 17 workers, the New Mexico Environment Department on Friday notified the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant that it has withdrawn a pending draft permit.

The plant is the nation's only permanent underground repository for low-level radioactive waste, including things such as plutonium-contaminated gloves, tools and protective clothing, from nuclear weapons facilities.

The plant near Carlsbad stopped taking all waste shipments after a Feb. 5 underground truck fire. Nine days later, a radiation release shuttered the plant. Officials have yet to get underground to figure out what caused the radiation release.

A series of shortcomings in maintenance safety training, emergency response and oversight were cited by a team that investigated the truck fire. It is unclear, however, if the fire and leak are related.

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