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With the nation’s only underground nuclear waste dump shuttered by a mysterious leak, Los Alamos National Laboratory has begun looking at alternatives for meeting a June deadline to remove toxic waste from a mesa on its northern New Mexico campus.
Lab spokesman Matthew Nerzig confirmed Tuesday that officials are exploring other options for removing the last of nearly 4,000 gallons of plutonium-contaminated tools and protective gear from its bomb-building labs if the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) in Carlsbad remains closed indefinitely.
The presence of that waste — some of which was dug up from decades-old, unsealed dumps in the northern New Mexico mountains and is now stored outside with little protection — came to the public’s attention three years ago as a massive wildfire lapped at the edges of the sprawling lab property.
The lab has since agreed to have it all removed from the mesa by the end of June. The lab was ahead of schedule for getting the nearly 4,000 barrels to WIPP when back-to-back accidents and a radiation release closed the repository last month.
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