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LANL resumes shipping nuke waste

Barrels of radioactive waste are loaded for transport to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant from the Radioactive Assay Nondestructive Testing facility in Los Alamos.

LOS ALAMOS – Officials at one of the nation’s top nuclear weapons laboratories say a special indoor facility for shipping radioactive waste is back in operation after five years.

Los Alamos National Laboratory said Friday the facility received federal authorization to reopen earlier this year and the first shipment was loaded up and sent off this week to the government’s nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico.

Shipments from the facility stopped in 2014 following questions about its ability to withstand a large earthquake event. The lab then developed a new strategy for operations to accommodate concerns.

As plutonium manufacturing ramps up at the lab so will the amount of waste generated, and officials say successful operations at the loading facility will be crucial.

The waste includes gloves, booties, tools and debris contaminated with plutonium and other radioactive elements.