Fire Breaks Out At Nuclear Waste Site

By  Stina Sieg
February 05, 2014

A fire broke out in an underground nuclear waste repository in southeastern New Mexico on Wednesday morning. No radioactive material has been affected, but all employees were evacuated. The blaze began around 11 a.m. in a vehicle that hauls salt at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad. Several of the federal plant’s employees were taken to a nearby hospital for smoke inhalation.

Roger Nelson is spokesperson for the Department of Energy, which runs the underground site. He said the blaze did not disturb any nuclear waste at the site.

“There is no waste in the vicinity of the fire,” Nelson said. “There are no waste containers or radiological material at risk at the site.”

Nelson added that the truck has a built-in fire suppression system but did not know if it had been activated. A re-entry time for the employees has not yet been set. The site buries waste contaminated with plutonium from various defense projects.