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Radiation Leak at New Mexico Nuclear Waste Storage Site Highlights Problems

Los Alamos National Laboratory, site of the Manhattan Project and where the first nuclear bombs were developed, continues to carry out classified work in designing nuclear weapons. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

Los Alamos National Laboratory, site of the Manhattan Project and where the first nuclear bombs were developed, continues to carry out classified work in designing nuclear weapons. (Photo: Erika Blumenfeld)

A recent fire and radiation release at New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) uranium repository has brought renewed focus on the problem of what to do with a growing stockpile of radioactive waste and spent fuel from commercial nuclear reactors.

The radiation release February 14, 2014, exposed at least 13 workers, after an alarm sounded and high levels of radiation were released from the underground repository in southeastern New Mexico, where nuclear waste from federal nuclear labs and weapons sites, along with discarded machinery, clothing and other radioactive waste is stored.

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