Nuclear Dump Leak Raises Questions About Cleanup

Feb 28, 2014

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — For years, plutonium-contaminated waste has been sent to what is supposed to be a safe resting place a half mile underground in New Mexican salt beds.

But accidents and an above-ground radiation release have shuttered the government's only deep underground nuclear waste dump indefinitely.

That is raising questions about a cornerstone of a $5 billion-a year-program for cleaning up waste from decades of nuclear bomb making.

With operations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant on hold, so are all shipments, including the last of nearly 4,000 barrels of toxic waste that Los Alamos National Laboratories.

New Mexico Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn says the state will be looking at what caused the recent leak that exposed 13 workers to radiation, before deciding on backing plans to allow waste from new sources.