The Department of Energy is expected to detail its plans for sealing off areas of its troubled underground nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico.
New Mexico Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn has given federal officials and the contractor that runs the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad until Friday afternoon to submit its plans for permanently sealing the two underground rooms where more than 300 barrels of potentially dangerous containers of waste are stored.
The waste was packed with cat litter to absorb moisture. Officials are investigating whether a switch from inorganic to organic litter is to blame for a chemical reaction with nitrate salts believed to have caused a February leak that contaminated 22 workers and indefinitely shuttered the plant.
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