Nuclear waste in limbo after accident at New Mexico plant

RT: February 28, 2014

As operations at the United States’ first nuclear waste repository remain on hold due to a radiation leak that worked its way above ground, concerns are being raised about the wisdom of expanding such an initiative.

As RT reported on Thursday, the fact that at least 13 employees at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico, have tested positive for radiation exposure doesn’t make the current situation easier to defend for pro-nuclear advocates.

Complicating the situation further is the fact that there are multiple shipments to the plant on hold as a result of the leak. As noted by the Associated Press, this includes what remains of the roughly 4,000 toxic waste barrels from the Los Alamos National Laboratories, currently stored outside and placed under minimal protection.

Yet even as concerns grow over the leak and its fallout, there are few real alternatives available when it comes to disposing leftover waste and equipment related to the development of nuclear weapons.

Currently, the WIPP is one of three global deep nuclear waste dumps, storing radioactive material 600 meters underground in salt tunnels. The Department of Energy is spending $5 billion a year to clean up waste associated with US nuclear development, but the recent leak has also temporarily put on hold the possibility that WIPP could begin accepting hotter, liquid waste from other sites around the country.

(Read the full article at RT)

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