these contractors are doing work for the Department of Energy, a federal agency using taxpayer dollars. The federal government must be held accountable in Idaho at all times.
Idaho’s role in the national nuclear waste and research strategy deserves more scrutiny. The proposed fuel rods contain some of the most radioactive material on earth. The industry and government have not determined how to “safely” handle and store waste that has a half-life longer than any human civilization has existed. Perhaps, instead of raising alarmist notions that Idaho’s economy depends on begging for nuclear waste imports, the DOE could first finish what it started with the waste we already have.
Idahoans should demand accountability on nuclear waste. BY KELSEY JAE NUNEZ HTTP://WWW.IDAHOSTATESMAN.COM/2015/08/29/3961694/GUEST-OPINION-IDAHOANS-SHOULD.HTML August 29, 2015 The state of Idaho should stand tall while demanding that the Department of Energy honor its commitments to the people of Idaho.
While the Idaho National Laboratory may be an economic force in our state, the history of the site is plagued by the federal government’s irresponsible and shortsighted practices involving disposal of nuclear waste. These actions contaminated the air, the soil, and the Snake River Aquifer with radioactive materials that will remain hazardous until the end of fathomable time. Real people suffered. Decades of dumping and controversial plans to continue shipping nuclear waste from around the world into Idaho caused outrage among many of its citizens. Litigation led to the now-famous 1995 Settlement Agreement, which is hardly outdated — the deadlines have just recently starting to come due.
The 1995 Settlement Agreement represents a set of negotiated promises from the federal government to Idahoans — promises to clean up the nuclear waste it brought here, and promises to limit the importation of more. Enforcing the agreement is Idaho’s legal and moral obligation, and the people should not tolerate manipulative tactics and attempts to bully Idaho into abandoning it. Continue reading
nuClear news No.77, September 20156. Plutonium Conundrum A US Energy Department-commissioned study, which has been leaked to the Union of Concerned Scientists, concludes that it would be cheaper and far less risky to dispose of 34 metric tons of U.S. surplus plutonium at a federal nuclear waste repository in New Mexico than convert it into mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel for commercial nuclear power plants at the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility in South Carolina.
The unreleased report describes in detail the delays and massive cost overruns at the half-built MOX facility, located at the federal Savannah River Site. High staff turnover, the need to replace improperly installed equipment, and an antagonistic relationship between the local federal project director and the contractor are only some of the factors undermining the project. The new report also notes that there are “no obvious silver bullets” to reduce the life-cycle cost of the MOX approach.
According to UCS, a better alternative to turning the surplus plutonium into commercial nuclear fuel would be to “downblend” it, a method the Energy Department has already used to dispose of several metric tons of plutonium. It involves diluting the plutonium with an inert, nonradioactive material and then sending it to the nuclear waste site in New Mexico, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), for burial. The new report’s analysis supports that assessment. …….
‘The fact that the Department of Energy has not released this report, prepared last year, is alarming and indicative of a safety-last culture.’
A leaked internal review of the nation’s largest nuclear clean-up site found hundreds of “significant design vulnerabilities” and begs questions about the Energy Department’s transparency, a watchdog group says.
The Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Washington houses radioactive waste from the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons, and the decades-long clean-up effort has been costly and plagued by leaking underground nuclear waste storage tanks.
Seattle-based Hanford Challenge, which advocates for safe clean-up of the site, says it received the Department of Energy document from a whistleblower who has worked at the site for many years as an engineer.
“The fact that the Department of Energy has not released this report, prepared last year, is alarming and indicative of a safety-last culture,” said Tom Carpenter, Executive Director of the group.
The document is a 2014 draft review called “Low-Activity Waste Facility Design and Operability Review and Recommendations.” That LAW facility, Hanford Challenge explains in a statement, “is designed to treat waste from Hanford’s high-level nuclear waste tanks that will be pre-treated to remove the highly-radioactive materials before being mixed with glass formers in a facility designed to vitrify the low level waste.”
From the executive summary of the leaked report: ……
The leaked review comes the same month as whistleblower Walter Tamosaitis, who raised safety concerns regarding operations at the site, reached a $4.1 settlement with Hanford subcontractor AECOM.
And last year, documents obtained by the Associated Press showed there were “significant construction flaws” in some of the double-shell storage tanks at the facility. U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) urged the Energy Department to provide an action plan of how it would deal with the risks the flaws pose, writing in a letter (pdf) to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz: “It is time for the Department to stop hiding the ball and pretending that the situation at Hanford is being effectively managed.”
The Washington site has proven itself an “intractable problem” that “costs taxpayers a billion dollars a year,” author and history professor Kate Brown wrote earlier this year. “Corporate contractors hired to clean up Hanford have made hundreds of millions of dollars in fees and surcharges, and, since little has been accomplished, the tab promises to mount for decades.”http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/08/26/significant-design-vulnerabilities-plague-massive-nuclear-waste-site-leaked-internal
Judge rejects Boeing’s bid to demolish and dispose of radioactive waste without accountability Eturbo News, SANTA MONICA, CA, Jan 2015 – Sacramento Superior Court has denied Boeing’s motion for summary judgment in a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) lawsuit over the demolition and disposal of radioactively contaminated structures from the site of a partial nuclear meltdown near Los Angeles, Consumer Watchdog said today.
“This is an important step on the way to ensuring that state regulators must consider the demolition and disposal of any radioactively contaminated structures at the Santa Susana Field Lab in their environmental assessment of the cleanup of this site,” said Consumer Watchdog Litigation Director Pam Pressley.
Boeing had claimed that the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has no regulatory
authority over the demolition and disposal of radioactively contaminated structures in the nuclear portion of the Santa Susana Field Lab (SSFL) in Simi Hills. The lab had tested small-scale nuclear reactors, rocket engines, and fuels and suffered a partial nuclear meltdown in 1959 that has never been fully cleaned up……http://www.eturbonews.com/54422/judge-rejects-boeings-bid-demolish-and-dispose-radioactive-waste
South Carolina court blasts state’s environmental protection agency over poor oversight of leaking nuclear waste dump
For the second year in a row, the S.C. Court of Appeals has ripped the state’s environmental protection agency for failing to properly oversee a leak-prone nuclear waste dump in Barnwell County.
But this time, the appeals court isn’t telling regulators when to resolve problems at the 44-year-old site.
In an Aug. 12 ruling that disappointed landfill critics, the court backed away from requiring a specific timetable to improve conditions at Chem-Nuclear’s dump near the Savannah River.
Last year, the appeals court ordered the Department of Health and Environmental Control and site operator Chem-Nuclear to develop a written plan for correcting problems within 90 days. Both then appealed for a rehearing, which delayed the 90-day requirement and ultimately resulted in last week’s decision.
Sierra Club lawyer Bob Guild said this year’s decision leaves DHEC — the agency that has failed to properly manage the site — the discretion to react to the court ruling at its own leisure.
“We have an agency that has been lawless for years in not enforcing its own regulations, and now, the court is giving it another open-ended opportunity to review itself,’’ Guild said. “That is unfortunate. We are going to monitor this very carefully.’
Guild’s group filed suit 10 years ago in an attempt to force tougher disposal practices at the unlined landfill, where radioactive tritium leaks first were detected in the 1970s. A plume of tritium extends downhill from the site and has for years trickled into a creek that flows toward the nearby Savannah River.
Sierra Club officials say DHEC has been lax in making Chem-Nuclear follow rules at the disposal site through the years.
The appeals court acknowledged problems, saying that DHEC “failed to enforce the law of South Carolina’’ in monitoring the 235-acre landfill outside the town of Snelling.
The court said DHEC, as the agency overseeing Chem-Nuclear’s activities, did not enforce a handful of specific regulations established to protect the environment. It also said Chem-Nuclear had failed to follow some of the rules on nuclear waste disposal. Except for the timetable, the court’s decision last week was similar to last year’s ruling that took DHEC and Chem-Nuclear to task.
“It is important that DHEC enforce its own regulations and require Chem-Nuclear to take action to comply with the technical requirements,’’ the ruling said in sending the matter back to DHEC for consideration……….
An array of critics, however, say tritium is still toxic and often is a forerunner of other, more dangerous pollutants that will one day wash into groundwater. Leaks were discovered within a decade of the Barnwell County site’s opening in 1971, despite initial assurances from state regulators.
The disposal site once took low-level nuclear waste from atomic power plants, hospitals and other places from across the country. Today, the landfill is open only to South Carolina, Connecticut and New Jersey, and waste volumes have dropped sharply. But the Sierra Club has pressed ahead with its 2005 lawsuit, saying better disposal practices will prevent tritium leaks from getting any worse.
One of the major concerns centers on rain that falls into open burial trenches. Environmentalists for years have pushed the state to require the placement of tents or roofs atop the burial trenches. That would cut down on the amount of rain that pours in, picks up radioactive pollutants from the waste and leaks through the bottom of the landfill and into groundwater, they say.
The court said Chem-Nuclear had done nothing to keep rain out of the burial pits, even though a state regulation says it is supposed to minimize movement of water in the pits. And the court said DHEC had not forced the company to comply with the rule intended to keep rain out of the pits — or acted to prevent rain from leaking through the bottom and into groundwater………http://www.thestate.com/news/local/article31585892.html
Japan’s plutonium stockpile worries Oxford specialist, Global Post, Xinhua News Agency Aug 17, 2015 NEW YORK, — The handling of Japan’s huge plutonium stockpile remains a challenge for the whole world, an Oxford environmental expert has warned.
When Japan marked the 70th anniversary of Nagasaki’s obliteration by a plutonium bomb on Aug. 9, its own cache of weapons-usable plutonium was more than 47 metric tons, enough to make nearly 6,000 warheads like the one that flattened the Japanese city, Dr. Peter Wynn Kirby of University of Oxford wrote in an op-ed on Monday’s New York Times……..
Japan’s 48 standard reactors burn uranium fuel, a process that yields plutonium, a highly radioactive and extremely toxic substance.
Although these reactors were shut down after the Fukushima tragedy, Japan still stores nearly 11 tons of plutonium on its territory, with the rest in Britain and France. Stockpiling plutonium in Japan remains hazardous given seismic instability in the country and the risk of theft by terrorists, warned Kirby…..
As a byproduct of burning uranium, plutonium itself can be processed in so-called fast-breeder reactors to produce more energy. That step also yields more plutonium, and so in theory this production chain is self-sustaining — a kind of virtuous nuclear-energy cycle, noted Kirby.
“In practice, however, fast-breeder technology has been extremely difficult to implement. It is notoriously faulty and astronomically expensive, and it creates more hazardous waste,” wrote Kirby.
Many other countries that experimented with fast-breeder reactors, including the United States, had phased them out by the 1990s. But Japan continued to invest heavily in the technology, noted Kirby.
While Japan’s record with nuclear waste is abysmal, no other country has found a safe or economically sustainable way to reuse such substances, especially not plutonium, he noted. Given Japan’s many vulnerabilities, particularly seismic activity, nuclear waste should no longer be stored in the country, he argued. “The Japanese government should pay its closest allies to take its plutonium away, permanently.”
Britain and France respectively holds 20 tons and 16 tons of Japan’s plutonium under contracts to reprocess it into usable fuel. Under current arrangements, this fuel, plus all byproducts, including plutonium, are to be sent back to Japan by 2020.
“Japan should pay, and generously, for that plutonium to stay where it is, in secure interim storage. And it should help fund the construction of secure permanent storage in Britain and France,” he said.
The Japanese government should also pay the United States to remove the nearly 11 tons of plutonium currently in Japan, he argued.
“Handling Japan’s plutonium would be a great burden for receiver countries, and Japan should pay heftily for the service. But even then the expense would likely amount to a fraction of what Japan spends on its ineffectual plutonium-energy infrastructure,” wrote the specialist.
Making Japan free of plutonium stockpile, thus preventing nuclear catastrophe as a result of earthquakes, would be in the whole world’s interest, he concluded.http://www.globalpost.com/article/6632161/2015/08/17/japans-plutonium-stockpile-worries-oxford-specialist
Canada Might Start Dumping Nuclear Waste Near the US Border, VICE, By Arthur White August 19, 2015 A Canadian plan to build an underground nuclear waste dump less than a mile from Lake Huron is getting unfriendly attention from US lawmakers, who are trying to force the Obama administration to invoke a 106-year-old treaty against its northern neighbor.
Though a Canadian review panel declared that the proposed Deep Geologic Repository will have “no significant adverse effects on the Great Lakes,” opponents wonder why a site so close to the world’s largest freshwater system was chosen. One environmental group even warned that the project could give terrorists the opportunity to steal radioactive materials and blow up a “dirty bomb” in downtown Toronto.
The project would bury 7 million cubic feet worth of low and intermediate level nuclear waste — including contaminated mop heads, paper towels, floor sweepings, but also filters and reactor components — 2,230 feet underground. Ontario Power Generation, which operates two nuclear power plants in Canada’s most populous province, has chosen a site just north of the lakefront town of Kincardine, after getting approval from the municipality.
The power company claims that the site is “ideal” for containing the waste, which will lay ensconced in limestone under a 660-foot layer of shale, a boundary they call “impermeable.” The risk from earthquakes is low, they say, and the rock formations have been stable for millions of years.
Data from a government earthquake database reveal that over the past 10 years there have been about a half dozen earthquakes roughly 20 miles north of the site. At less than 2 on the Richter scale, all of those tremors were extremely weak. The most powerful quake in the region, which hit 4.3 on the scale, was about 50 miles away.
This March, a review panel recommended that the government approve the dump, claiming that the health risks to people living around the lakes are “virtually zero………
That report was sent to Canada’s environment minister, who is expected to announce a decision in early December.
But many challenge the panel’s impartiality, with the Sierra Club Canada saying it’s stacked with ex-nuclear industry officials, and the Canadian Environmental Law Agency (CELA) calling its report biased, incomplete, and “fundamentally flawed.”
“The members of the panel support nuclear power from the outset,” the Sierra Club’s program director, John Bennett, told VICE News. “They’ve never not approved a project.”
CELA blasted the panel and the power company for only considering a “hypothetical” alternative to the DGR plan, without looking at a single other real-world site to bury the waste………https://news.vice.com/article/canada-might-start-dumping-nuclear-waste-near-the-us-border
‘Nuclear waste dumping must overcome public opposition’ – expert concedes https://www.rt.com/uk/312735-nuclear-waste-dumping-fears/ 18 Aug, 2015 Nuclear lobbyists have admitted that public opposition to radioactive waste is a major challenge to finding new disposal sites for the deadly material.
A government agency tasked with nuclear waste management conceded that “nuclear dread” was a common feeling among British citizens, who fear the idea of living near radioactive waste dumps. Continue reading
‘Social and political challenges’ to nuclear waste disposal, Yahoo News Press Association – Mon, Aug 17, 2015 Nearly a third of the UK, excluding Scotland, could be suitable for the deep burial of dangerous radioactive waste, experts believe. New £4 billion plans for geological disposal could see containers of nuclear material sunk into boreholes and caverns 200 to 1,000 metres below ground.
There it would remain safe for hundreds of thousands of years while its radioactivity slowly waned.
A public information campaign aimed at winning support for the proposals is due to be launched early next month.
But planning and consultation is set to take so long that the first batch of nuclear waste is not expected to be placed in the ground until 2040. Earlier proposals for a geological disposal facility in West Cumbria were scotched in 2013 because of local opposition.
Alun Ellis, science and technology director of Radioactive Waste Management, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority subsidiary tasked with delivering geological disposal, said surveys indicated around 30% of the UK might be suitable for nuclear waste burial.
Speaking at a background briefing at the Science Media Centre in London, he added: “It’s a substantial proportion. There’s a substantial part of the UK that is technically suitable to host a geological disposal facility, but as we found in Cumbria that’s only half the problem.
“The other half of the problem, the more difficult half, is how we overcome the social and political challenges.”
With that in mind the aim is now to involve the public every step of the way before deciding where to bury the nuclear waste.
Early next month communities will be consulted on how to conduct an information-gathering exercise paving the way for screening potential sites.Scotland does not form part of the plans because geological disposal is not supported by Scottish government.
An estimated 4.5 million cubic metres of nuclear waste either exists already in the UK or will be generated in the near future – four times the volume of Wembley Stadium.
Of this, 90% can be re-used, recycled or permanently disposed of in surface facilities.
But a long-term solution has to be found for what to do with the remaining 10%, some of which could remain a radiation hazard for thousands of years. Currently the waste is stored in surface facilities where its safety cannot be guaranteed in decades to come, creating a burden for future generations.
“The international consensus is that geological disposal is the safest and most sustainable solution for managing these wastes and also that it is technically feasible,” said Mr Ellis………https://uk.news.yahoo.com/social-political-challenges-nuclear-waste-disposal-150045495.html#BDSfEnV
Norway wants to dump nuclear waste on island, The Local, 14 Aug 2015 Norway’s government wants to dump 1,200 tons of radioactive waste on an island an hour south of Oslo, even though the waste company which owns the site believes it is too dangerous. According to Norway’s VG newspaper, Norway’s Ministry of Industry has hired a Swedish consultant in order to overall the objections from NOAH, which owns the waste dump on Langøya, and so force it to take radioactive sludge from the Søve mines an hour inland.
an actual location won’t be chosen until 2031, and it will take until 2050 to convert that site until it is ready to store the waste. The process of moving the waste there will then take several more decades.
Germany draws up new plan to dispose of nuclear waste http://www.dw.com/en/germany-draws-up-new-plan-to-dispose-of-nuclear-waste/a-18645069 12 Aug 15 The German government has presented its plan for permanently disposing of nuclear waste. Critics say the proposal is a tacit admission that it is a bigger problem than it has ever acknowledged before. Pausing only to get the okay from the cabinet, Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks gave a press conference on Wednesday to present the government’s brand new plan for dealing with radioactive waste. Continue reading
The spectre of the new nuclear renaissance
Al’Khalili then went on to give every impression that high level nuclear waste can be safely stored using the process of ‘vitrification’, that is, turning it in glass, and so binding the waste safely into a permanent, impermeable matrix.
What he failed to mention is that the glass is by no means permanent and durable storage medium for “thousands of generations” as the glass is liable to break down – and that the problem of long term disposal of these wastes remains unsolved. For example, asR C Ewing and colleagues wrote in 1995 in the journal Progress in Nuclear Energy,
“the post-disposal radiation damage to waste form glasses and crystalline ceramics is significant. The cumulative α-decay doses which are projected for nuclear waste glasses … are well within the range for which important changes in the physical and chemical properties may occur, e.g. the transition from the crystalline-to-aperiodic state in ceramics.”
of_omission.html Dr David Lowry 12th August 2015
For one of these programmes the BBC commissioned Baghdad-born Professor Jameel ‘Jim’ Al-Khalili, theoretical physicist and Chair in the Public Engagement in Science from the University of Surrey, to research and present one programme called ‘Britain’s Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield‘.
As a regular BBC broadcaster, hosting the long-running The Life Scientific on Radio 4, and maker of several science television programmes on television, including on quantum physics and the history of electricity, he was eminently qualified to make this programme.
However the programme was highly misleading thanks to major omissions, concealing the severity of accidents, and how the UK’s entire ‘civilian’ nuclear programme was subverted into producing military plutonium that fed into the Sellafield bomb factory. Continue reading
Nuclear restart highlights government dilemma over lack of waste disposal sites, Japan Times BY KAYO MIMIZUKA KYODO AUG 11, 2015 With an unpopular return to nuclear power generation, Japan can no longer ignore the elephant in the room: where is the country’s highly radioactive nuclear waste going?
The reboot Tuesday of a reactor at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture comes as the government struggles to find a final disposal site for high-level nuclear waste.
Currently, around 17,000 tons is sitting in temporary storage pools across the country, and the restart means the generation of even more.
Spent fuel pools at some nuclear plants will reach their capacity in as soon as three years.
A spokeswoman at Kyushu Electric said the Sendai plant’s storage pools “still have enough room,” suggesting the utility is not planning to immediately take further measures. But they are expected to become full in roughly 11 years, according to official data.
International concerns are also growing over the increase in Japan’s possession of plutonium due to its potential for falling into the wrong hands and being used to make nuclear weapons. As of the end of 2014, Japan had 47.8 tons of plutonium, up 0.7 tons from a year earlier.
Under Japan’s nuclear fuel recycle policy, plutonium extracted by reprocessing conventional uranium fuel is consumed by reactors in the form of plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel, known as MOX. But its feasibility remains uncertain, given public concerns after the Fukushima disaster.
Currently, the government plans to store nuclear waste at a final repository more than 300 meters underground. It would sit there for up to 100,000 years until radiation levels fall low enough and there is no harm to the environment……
In May, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe introduced a scheme allowing the government to choose candidate sites based on scientific grounds, including resistance to earthquakes……
Hideyuki Ban, co-director of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, said finding a location to build a disposal site in Japan is even more difficult than in other countries due to the public’s sensitivity to nuclear power given the Fukushima crisis.
“For now, there is no national consensus at all on what to do with nuclear power generation down the road,” Ban said. “As the majority of people oppose nuclear power, surely there will be a backlash” against the government’s plan.
Since May, the government has been briefing municipalities on how it selects candidate sites.
Such meetings have been held in all 47 prefectures except Fukushima, but officials from some communities refused to take part out of fear their attendance might be considered a sign of their intention to accept a disposal site.
Questions have also arisen over the transparency of the process……http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/08/11/national/nuclear-restart-highlights-government-dilemma-lack-waste-disposal-sites/#.VcrZ3LKqpHx
It was bureaucrats who made the plan to demand each prefecture to build it. There has been no viable explanation why each prefecture has to be responsible for the solution.
This is a typical example of negative aspect of top-down style bureaucracy in Japan
No Exit for Radioactive Wastes http://hitaku7664.blogspot.com.au/2015/08/no-exit-for-radioactive-wastes.html While Government of Japan promotes nuclear policy of resuming some nuclear power plants, the people in the area suffered from radioactive materials emitted by broken First Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant are still living with great amount of contaminated soil, grass or trees. Although the government decided that those contaminated wastes should be treated by each prefecture, programs to build processing facilities are deadlocked by firm opposition by the residents. The government is facing a necessity for changing their plan.
Ministry of Environment designated radioactive waste, caused by the accident in Fukushima, with 8,000 Becquerel per kilogram or more as necessary to be under control of public sector. Concerning firm opposition from Fukushima, if those waste would be concentrated to Fukushima, the ministry decided that the disseminated waste should be processed in each prefecture.
Among five prefectures around Fukushima in need of building processing facility, Miyagi and Tochigi have been seeing strong protest of the residents. In Tochigi, although the ministry determined the place for the facility in Shioya Town, the people there organized broad movement against the plan. They pointed out fundamental contradiction of Ministry of Environment that it was building environmentally harmful facility in the place close to a water source which the ministry had formerly registered as a pure water source to be protected.
Chiba has been regarded as the place where the facility would be build first. Tokyo Electric Power Company offered an unused land in Chiba city for the facility. But, residents started protesting activities, arguing that the reason of selecting the place was unclear or liquidation caused by great earthquake would be concerned. Two thousand metric tons of radioactive waste in Chiba has still no way to go.
Now, the question is whether the decision of Ministry of Environment to process radioactive waste in each prefecture was right or wrong. The lawmakers passed a law which determined that national government would deal with radioactive waste caused by Fukushima accident. But the law did not require each prefecture to build processing facility. It was bureaucrats who made the plan to demand each prefecture to build it. There has been no viable explanation why each prefecture has to be responsible for the solution.
This is a typical example of negative aspect of top-down style bureaucracy in Japan. The key is whether bureaucrats would admit their wrong decision and change the course to plan B.
The opening of an underground nuclear waste dump in New Mexico just got delayed indefinitely http://www.businessinsider.com.au/r-officials-delay-reopening-of-new-mexico-nuclear-waste-site-2015-8 JOSEPH J. KOLB ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Reuters) – The planned March 2016 reopening of an underground nuclear waste dump in New Mexico has been pushed back indefinitely because of unanticipated challenges, U.S. officials said.
A radiation leak at the U.S. government’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant that originated in a disposal chamber half a mile (1 km) below ground at the center near Carlsbad, New Mexico, exposed more than 20 workers to small amounts of radiation in February 2014, officials have said.
The accident led to the suspension of key operations at the site, the Energy Department’s only permanent underground repository for certain types of radiological waste tied to U.S. nuclear labs and weapons sites.
Dana Bryson, acting manager for the Department of Energy’s Carlsbad Field Office, said in a statement on Friday: “We are disappointed that we will not meet the original target date for beginning waste emplacement.”
He did not provide a date for reopening the facility.
“While the WIPP recovery program continues to make significant progress, the original target date of March 2016 for resuming waste emplacement operations is no longer viable due to a variety of unanticipated issues,” said a news release from the U.S. Department of Energy that contained Bryson’s statement.
Key challenges that remain include the need to implement heightened safety standards from the Department of Energy and to resolve problems with the ventilation system, officials said.
“The department is committed to resuming operations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant as soon as it is safe to do so,” Bryson said.
(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis)
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