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Radwaste dump gets permit.

Radwaste dump gets permit

The U.S. Department of Energy has moved one step forward in its efforts to open the nation's first underground nuclear waste repository, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). But the agency must clear several more hurdles before it can move the first drums of waste into the facility, located about 25 miles east of Carlsbad, N.M.

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency granted the Energy Department a critical permit allowing WIPP to accept up to 8,500 drums of mixed hazardous and nuclear waste for a five-year testing phase, during which engineers must demonstrate that the waste will not migrate out of the disposal site. That number of drums represents 1 percent of WIPP's capacity.

Before testing can begin, though, the Energy Department must obtain a landwithdrawal permit from the Interior Department of Congress. It also must prepare the repository for the tests, which will involve placing canisters in a sealed room to measure the pressure of gas generated by the waste. But engineers have had trouble sealing the rooms and do not expect to achieve a successful seal before early 1992, says Lokesh Chaturvedi of the Environmental Evaluation Group, a New Mexico task force charged with overseeing the WIPP project.
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Title Annotation:Waste Isolation Pilot Plant for nuclear waste in New Mexico
Publication:Science News
Date:Nov 10, 1990
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