Casper Star-Tribune
Casper, Wyoming

Thursday, June 14, 2001

Government revives proposal to inspect waste

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) - The Energy Department has revived a plan to analyze drums of radioactive waste at its underground dump in southeastern New Mexico.

Under the plan, the contents of waste shipments would be confirmed at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad rather than at the sites where they had been temporarily stored.

The government asked the state Environment Department to approve the plan last summer, but the request was withdrawn after regulators and watchdog groups objected.

The new request has been changed to address the criticism, officials said.

Public meetings on the plan will be held next month in New Mexico.

In an effort to be more efficient, federal officials want to create a centralized facility at the dump for determining exactly what is inside each drum.

The government calls the current system of analyzing drum contents before they are moved cumbersome. The Energy Department contends the whole process could be sped up by doing most of the complex analysis when shipments arrive.

The dump currently accepts waste like clothing, tools and rags that has been contaminated with plutonium and other hazardous substances that remain radioactive for thousands of years. The Carlsbad facility is the only one authorized to receive that kind of waste.