US energy boss lauds opening of nuke repository

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CARLSBAD N.M. (KRQE)It’s been open for almost a week, but Monday was the official re-opening of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad.

At the ribbon-cutting, the governor called it an important milestone for the nuclear waste site and for New Mexico.

It’s been nearly three years since the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant was shut down after a drum of waste from Los Alamos National Laboratories exploded, triggering a radiation leak.

Last week, the feds finally started storing nuclear waste underground again at WIPP.

“We all felt this could be, it could be done, it could be done safely. It was very important that we had everybody here for the resource levels that were required,” said Dr. Ernest Moniz, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy.

At the ceremony, Gov. Martinez outlined the two main goals of the facility right now.

“We have transuranic waste through out the country that is being held back that needs to come to WIPP, so safety is number one and getting as much of that waste into the safety of WIPP is number two,” she said.

Secretary Moniz has made re-opening the plant his top priority, and state officials showed their appreciation to him Monday.

“I just can’t see any way other than being fully committed to this. After all, if I just take my DOE hat, our whole system relies on successful operation here at WIPP,” said Moniz.

They also thanked the employees who have worked for almost three years to make WIPP safer.

“We want to thank you for all that you have done to make this day possible,” said Gov. Martinez.

WIPP provides about 4,000 jobs to the area. KRQE News 13 is told the shipments will slowly resume, and by the end of the year they hope to be taking in about five per week.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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