DOE challenging fines from NMED

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By Associated Press

CARLSBAD (AP) — The U.S. Department of Energy is contesting more than $54 million in fines, the largest penalty levied by New Mexico for numerous violations that resulted in the indefinite closure of the nation’s only underground nuclear waste repository.
The Energy Department and the contractors paid to operate the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant and Los Alamos National Laboratory said Friday that they want a hearing on the matter.
Energy officials are also asking for the penalties to be reduced or forgiven.
The New Mexico Environment Department said discussions of a settlement are ongoing. The state alleges more than 30 violations occurred at both facilities.
On. Feb. 5, a truck hauling salt at WIPP caught fire. Nine days later, a canister of waste from Los Alamos leaked, forcing the facility’s indefinite closure.