DOE: Could be 3 years to fully reopen NM nuke dump

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The head of the recovery effort at the federal government's nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico says it could be 3 years before full operations resume at the underground facility.

Recovery manager Jim Blankenhorn says the timeline is a moving target, but full operations are expected to resume no earlier than 18 months from now.

He says crews are investigating the cause of a radiation release that exposed some workers and halted operations at the repository in February. One theory is there may have been a chemical reaction inside waste drums from Los Alamos National Laboratory.

New Mexico Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn urged officials not to withhold any information. He says he's concerned the public will lose faith if federal officials change their story every couple of weeks about what might have happened at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

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