Feds Eye Storage Pad for Nuclear Waste in Southern New Mexico

Sun December 11, 2016 - West Edition #25

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) The federal government's only underground nuclear waste repository has been closed for nearly three years due to a radiation release.

As the U.S. Department of Energy works to get it reopened, the agency also wants New Mexico regulators to approve the construction of a new above-ground storage area where incoming waste can be kept for up to a year.

There's a backlog of waste from government sites around the country that needs to be shipped to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southern New Mexico for permanent disposal. Officials said the outside storage area would give them more flexibility for handling incoming containers.

Federal officials had their last information meeting Oct. 27 in Carlsbad. Public comments are due in early December.

Watchdog groups are voicing concerns about the plan.