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YAKIMA, Wash. — The U.S. Department of Energy plans to resume shipping radioactive waste from the Hanford nuclear reservation to a repository in New Mexico in early March, four years earlier than originally planned.
The Energy Department halted waste shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad in September 2008. They were not expected to resume until 2014, but federal stimulus money is enabling workers to
expand waste packaging operations again at the south-central Washington site, Energy Department spokesman Geoff Tyree said Friday.
“So thanks to the Recovery Act money, we’re resuming shipments of waste out of state years earlier than originally planned,” he said.
The federal government created Hanford in the 1940s as part of its top-secret Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb. Today, it is the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site.
At 586 square miles, cleanup operations vary at Hanford, from tearing down buildings and digging up radioactive waste to treating tainted groundwater and preserving historic sites.
At the time waste shipments to New Mexico were halted, available money was being directed toward cleaning up contaminated areas along the Columbia River, which borders the Hanford site and is the Pacific Northwest’s largest waterway.
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