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Lingering Concerns During WIPP Cleanup

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As cleanup of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant commences, folks down south remain concerned about transparency and oversight.

  John Heaton is the chairman of the Mayor’s Nuclear Task Force in Carlsbad. He said every recovery decision is being circulated through the Department of Energy, and it’s an agonizingly slow process. "It’s a mistake for them not to have a recovery person here on site," he said. "It would save millions of dollars if they would do that, no question. But there’s a reluctance from headquarters to give up the control."

Heaton says because the DOE has worked for so many years under a veil of secrecy, transparency is an inherent issue. But the lack of communication also creates problems. Take, for example he says, the recent fire drill that many people thought indicated another actual fire in the mine. 

Heaton says the primary goal for residents near the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is making sure the errors that caused the facility to shut down don’t happen again.

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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