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Interim Manager Named At WIPP As DOE Moves To Open Waste Facility.

Amid small steps toward opening the nuclear waste disposal facility, the Energy Department tapped a senior official at its Rocky Flats facility to serve as interim manager of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.

Keith Klein, deputy manager at Rocky Flats since 1994, will serve as acting manager of DOE's Carlsbad, N.M., office until a permanent successor is chosen.

Klein's appointment follows a long lapse in leadership at WIPP following the resignation of George Dials as WIPP manager in June. DOE appears to be having trouble finding a replacement for Dials; it said it interviewed candidates in July, but was expanding its search for a new manager.

Meanwhile, DOE is making progress in resolving its dispute with the New Mexico Environment Department over opening WIPP to waste shipments.

Specifically, DOE Monday sent New Mexican officials sampling results for radioactive wastes that would represent the first shipment to WIPP. The sampling was demanded by state officials as proof that the wastes did not contain any state-regulated toxic residues, which would be illegal to place in WIPP because the state has not yet issued a permit for the facility to handle toxic wastes.

DOE officials sought to send the wastes at issue to WIPP this summer, saying they contained solely radioactive materials and thus were not subject to state regulation.

A spokesman for the New Mexico Environment Department said Tuesday the state likely would assess DOE's sampling results within a few weeks. However, he said the state could not currently commit to a DOE-requested Nov. 30 deadline for deciding on the first shipments.

Most other DOE wastes to be sent to WIPP will contain toxic residues and thus must await issuance of the state permit.

State officials Friday released for public comment a revised draft permit, and said they were on track to issue the final permit by September 1999.

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Publication:Caribbean Update
Date:Nov 18, 1998
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