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Poor management, safety lapses led to U.S. radiation leak

Release caused by a chemical reaction inside a drum of waste packaged at Los Alamos National Laboratory

April 17, 2015  by Susan Montoya Bryan, The Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. _ Investigators say officials could have prevented the poor management and lapses in safety that led to radiation contamination inside the federal government’s only underground nuclear waste repository.

The shortcomings were outlined in a final report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Accident Investigation Board.

Investigators spent more than a year looking into the cause of the radiation release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

Like a separate team of experts, they also found that the release was caused by a chemical reaction inside a drum of waste that had been packaged at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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The release contaminated workers and forced the indefinite closure of WIPP.

Federal officials say it could take years and cost more than a half-billion dollars to reopen the repository.