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Radioactive waste site adds underground safety zone

CARLSBAD — More workers will be able to go underground at Carlsbad’s radioactive waste disposal site because of the addition of a new evacuation area.

The Current Argus reports (http://bit.ly/1CxDEw9 ) that the number of workers allowed beneath the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant jumped from 75 to 98 last week.

Nuclear Waste Partnership Recovery manager Jim Blankenhorn says the number increased because of the combustible-free zone that will serve as a safe area for workers if there is an underground fire.

The safe zone was established underneath shafts to the surface. WIPP removed flammable materials and restricted diesel equipment in the area. The equipment can pass through the area but not remain there.

Blackenhorn says the fire-free zone is just one of WIPP’s planned safety upgrades. They hope to eventually allow 149 workers underground.

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Information from: Carlsbad Current-Argus, http://www.currentargus.com/

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