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Besides being expensive, one of the obvious barriers to nuclear power is the problem of waste storage. And since the Obama administration has shut down construction at the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada, the U.S. has been left without a long-term plan for nuclear storage, leaving waste stranded at nuclear plants and even prompting lawsuits from utilities.

EnergyNOW reports that amid this controversy, though, another federal site in New Mexico has been quietly accepting nuclear waste and storing it in underground salt caverns.

The Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Project, or WIPP, has already accepted more than 10,000 shipments of transuranic nuclear waste in salt caverns underground. The salt, one engineer explains in the video, basically closes in around the waste barrels over time, automatically sealing them in from the elements. Geologists say the site hasn’t seen water in 250 million years.

Another engineer interviewed by EnergyNOW says the facility has plenty of capacity to accept additional waste from the nation’s nuclear plants.

Ken Paulman

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.

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