Experts discuss storing high-level waste

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Some of the brightest minds in nuclear energy are gathered in Albuquerque on Wednesday.

They’re research is extensive – and they’re discussing whether salt could be used to store high-level waste.

That’s something that could lead to an expansion of operations at the WIPP site in Carlsbad.

This is drawing a lot of interest, especially because of the ongoing concerns over the recent radioactive leak at the WIPP site.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant sits 26 miles outside the southeast New Mexico town and on top of massive salt beds. Currently, the plant handles only low-level nuclear waste.

The review board is looking at salt as a possible safe store house for higher level waste and spent nuclear fuel. It’s important to note – this meeting is not to solely discuss WIPP.

Chair of the board Rodney Ewing, a professor at Stanford – says they’re weighing the pros and cons of salt as a medium to contain that higher level waste. He says salt shows positive characteristics when it comes to high level waste.

“If it has a very positive list of good qualities, that would apply to salt deposits around the country, including those in the Carlsbad area,” said Rodney.

Energy experts in New Mexico have differing opinions on the possible expansion of WIPP.

Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall are opposed to storing high-level waste at the plant.

The Department of Energy is still monitoring radiation levels following last month’s leak.

Public comment at Wednesday’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 4:45 p.m. this afternoon.

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