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A radiation leak at the government’s troubled nuclear waste dump has been linked to a waste container shipped from Los Alamos National Laboratory, officials said Friday, raising questions about the safety of other barrels being stored on the lab’s northern New Mexico campus and at a temporary site in West Texas.
Lab Director Charlie McMillan, in a memo Friday to lab employees, said Los Alamos “is fully cooperating” with state and federal officials and has taken extra precautions to ensure that similar waste drums at the lab and those sent to Waste Control Specialists in Texas “are in a safe and controlled configuration.”
“Based on this,” he wrote, “we do not believe there is any imminent threat to the safety of our employees, the public, or the environment at this time.”
But watchdog Don Hancock of the Southwest Research and Information Center in Albuquerque said that until more is known about the breach, “we can’t have assurances.”
In a statement, the U.S. Department of Energy said pictures from the latest entry into the half-mile deep Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad in southeastern New Mexico confirm that a container from Los Alamos has a cracked lid and evidence of heat damage.
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