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New Mexico signs final order to renew permit at US nuclear waste repository

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico environmental regulators on Thursday finalized a 10-year permit extension at the nation’s only underground nuclear waste repository that they say will increase oversight and safeguards while prioritizing the cleanup of Cold War-era waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The state Environment Department said the permit goes into effect on Nov. 3, following a nine-month public comment period.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico plays a key role in the nation’s multibillion-dollar effort to clean up radioactive waste left behind by decades of nuclear research and bomb-making. It has been licensed previously to take what is known as transuranic waste, or waste generated by the nation’s nuclear weapons program that is contaminated with radioactive elements heavier than uranium.

“The new permit will benefit New Mexico and legacy waste clean-up from around the U.S. for years to come,” New Mexico Environment Department Secretary James Kenney said in a statement.

The new permit incorporates terms of a June settlement with the U.S. Department of Energy.

The state first outlined its terms in December, seeking to ensure that high-level waste such as diluted plutonium wouldn’t find its way to the state.

Article Topic Follows: AP-National

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