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WIPP evacuated after ‘misaligned’ waste drum discovered Thursday night

Drums of waste at WIPP are often packaged in a seven-drum configuration. (Source: WIPP)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Workers at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeast New Mexico were evacuated from the underground nuclear waste repository last night after an out-of-place container was discovered.

Donavan Mager, a spokesman for WIPP’s operating contractor Nuclear Waste Partnership, said Friday morning that the drum, bound together with six other drums with a heavy plastic wrap, was “tilting out” from the others.

“It’s happened before,” Mager said.

There were no injuries reported and no radiological release was detected.

WIPP’s emergency operations center in Carlsbad was activated after the drum was discovered at around 7:30 p.m. and deactivated by 10:30 p.m.

“By procedure and following conservative measures, employees were ordered to leave the underground,” a post on the WIPP Facebook page read. “A re-entry plan is being formulated to ensure the remaining drums of waste are safely emplaced.”