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WIPP materials remain safe

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By Associated Press

CARLSBAD (AP) — Crews declared a blaze at an underground nuclear repository in southeastern New Mexico snuffed out and determined that there was minimal damage after a truck hauling salt caught fire and prompted an evacuation.
Two mine rescue teams went into the earth at the Carlsbad-area Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, where the federal government seals away its low-grade nuclear waste, including plutonium-contaminated clothing and tools. The teams determined the fire was no longer burning and reported the air was clear and safe to breathe, a news release and Susan Scott, a spokeswoman who answered an emergency line, said late Wednesday.
All employees were evacuated from the underground site after the fire broke out about 11 a.m. Wednesday, and none of the radioactive waste was affected, plant officials said.
Six people were treated for smoke inhalation and released a short while later.
Early Thursday, officials said the situation was stable and firefighting foam was applied to prevent embers from reigniting.
Emergency response efforts wrapped up but an investigation is underway in an effort to get the plant safely back online, a statement said.
A phone call to the plant early Thursday morning went unanswered.
No information was released on what caused the blaze or when the site would reopen.


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