Secretary of Energy visits WIPP near Carlsbad

Created: 08/12/2014 5:36 PM
By: Lauren Hansard, KOB Eyewitness News 4

It’s been closed since February, but Tuesday signs of hope at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad.

Nearly six months after a radiation leak shut it down, WIPP got an important visitor. The Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz flew down from Washington DC to see the plant for himself and his message was loud and clear.

WIPP will re-open, but it might not be for another 18 months. Congressman Steve Pearce says investigators want to be thorough.

“It’s the caution that is bringing in the two years. I think they've got the technology to go and clean it up today, but they just want to be able to understand completely what happened and why," said Pearce.

WIPP is the country’s only deposit for nuclear waste.

Pearce says the fact that Moniz came to visit proves the plant is top on the priority list.

“Oh yes tremendous deal, nationwide it was a big deal, but it was a big deal for Carlsbad and Eddy County," said Pearce.

A big deal because WIPP employs over 600 people, who want to know if they’re going to keep their job.

“There were questions coming from the employees don't forget us and he says look we're here today to let you know that we’re not forgetting you," said Pearce.

Investigators still don’t know what caused the February leak other than it came from a barrel of waste, but some people living in Carlsbad are ready for WIPP to re-open.

“I don't think there's any danger,” said Jean Tupper. “I think accidents happen everywhere."

“I trust the people in charge to actually take care of it and get it repaired and to be able to move on," said Mary Sandford.

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