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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.