First-of-its-kind US nuclear waste dump marks 20 years
By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - In a remote stretch of desert in southern New Mexico, the U.S. government set in motion an experiment that, if successful, would prove to the world that radioactive waste could be safely disposed of deep underground.
Twenty years and more than 12,380 shipments later, tons of Cold War-era waste from decades of bomb-making and nuclear research have been stashed in the salt caverns that make up the underground facility - and not without issues.
A 2014 radiation leak forced an expensive nearly three-year closure and delayed the federal government's cleanup program.
Supporters still consider the repository a success, saying it provides a viable option for dealing with a multibillion-dollar mess. That success is checkered at best for those who worry about mounting pressures on the repository to become a dumping ground for high-level waste.
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