Mock operations begin at federal nuclear waste dump

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CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) – Workers at the federal government’s only underground nuclear waste repository are conducting operations using containers of simulated waste as they work to reopen the facility in southern New Mexico.

The mock operations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant began Wednesday following a safety analysis that lasted several weeks.

The so-called cold operations are part of an eight-week process to make sure procedures for handling waste are adequate and that workers have a chance to become proficient before real operations resume.

The plant has been closed since February 2014, when an inappropriately packed container of waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory ruptured and contaminated part of the facility.

The closure derailed cleanup at federal sites around the nation and recovery is costing the U.S. Energy Department hundreds of millions of dollars.

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