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Work begins to boost airflow at US nuclear repository

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CARLSBAD (AP) — Work has started on a new ventilation system that will clear the way for more radioactive waste to be hauled underground and disposed of at the U.S. government's nuclear repository in southern New Mexico.

U.S. Energy Department officials celebrated with a groundbreaking event Thursday, saying the system is key for ramping up work at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

The repository restarted operations in 2017 following a nearly three-year shutdown that resulted from a radiation release from an inappropriately packaged drum of waste that was shipped from Los Alamos National Laboratory.

After the 2014 release, limited ventilation underground due to contamination issues slowed disposal operations as well as mining and maintenance work.

The new system is expected to cost more than a quarter-billion dollars and take until 2021 to complete.