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Feds say it could take 2 years to seal nuke dump

Created: 05/30/2014 4:57 PM
By: JERI CLAUSING

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Energy says it could take two years or more to meet a state order to seal off potentially dangerous containers at its troubled underground nuclear waste dump.

In a filing with the New Mexico Energy Department on Friday, officials detailed the work and gave broad ranges that indicate it could take a minimum of about 100 work weeks — and possibly twice that long — to secure the rooms at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad.

New Mexico Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn ordered federal officials and the contractor that runs the nuclear dump to submit the plans for permanently sealing the two underground rooms where more than 300 barrels of waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory are stored.

The waste was packed with cat litter to absorb moisture. Officials are investigating whether a switch from inorganic to organic litter is to blame for a chemical reaction with nitrate salts believed to have caused a Feb. 14 leak that contaminated 22 workers and indefinitely shuttered the plant.

(Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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