Watchdogs concerned about readiness of New Mexico nuke dump

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A series of recent ceiling collapses at the federal government’s only underground nuclear waste repository has watchdogs calling on officials to ensure safety before moving ahead with a planned reopening later this year.

U.S. Energy Department officials and the contractor that manages the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southern New Mexico will update the public on the collapses during a meeting Thursday evening.

A radiation release forced the closure of the repository in February 2014.

Since then, shipments of waste from federal facilities around the country have been on hold.

The waste is meant to be entombed in storage rooms carved out of a salt formation deep underground.

Contamination and limited ventilation has made maintenance of the walls and ceilings difficult.

Officials have reported three collapses in recent weeks.

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