A new investigation by federal regulators into possible safety violations associated with a radiation leak detected in February at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad could have drastic consequences for the nation’s only below-ground nuclear waste storage site and the contractor that manages it.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Enforcement notified WIPP and the contractor, Nuclear Waste Partnership, about the investigation in a letter dated June 16. It will focus on “the facts and circumstances associated with potential programmatic deficiencies in the nuclear safety, radiation protection, emergency management, quality assurance and worker safety and health programs” in light of the Feb. 14 radiation leak and a truck fire at WIPP mere days earlier, according to the letter.
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