Tennessee site marks milestone with shipment to US nuke dump

This Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017 photo provided by the U.S. Energy Department shows a shipment of radioactive waste leaving the Transuranic Waste Processing Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The shipment marked the first from Oak Ridge to the federal government's only underground nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico in five years. (U.S. Energy Department via AP)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A processing center for radioactive waste in Tennessee has made its first shipment in five years to the federal government’s only underground nuclear waste repository, marking another milestone as the U.S. gets its multibillion-dollar cleanup program back on track.

Cleanup of contaminated tools and other debris from decades of nuclear research and bomb-making at sites around the nation was sidelined in 2014 when a radiation release forced the closure of the southern New Mexico repository.

Shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant resumed in April following an expensive recovery effort and a major policy overhaul. Officials said that the initial pace would be slow and methodical.

Repository officials confirmed Friday they are now receiving between three and four shipments a week, most of them coming from the Idaho National Laboratory.