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Fire prompts evacuation of U.S. nuclear waste facility

English.news.cn   2014-02-06 12:56:07

HOUSTON, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- An underground fire at a storage facility for nuclear waste in the U.S. state of New Mexico prompted evacuations Wednesday, U.S. media reported.

The incident happened Wednesday morning when a truck hauling salt underground caught fire at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad in southern New Mexico, the website of the Albuquerque Journal said.

WIPP, an underground radioactive waste disposal site, was immediately evacuated. Roger Nelson, a spokesman for the site, told the Journal that all employees were accounted for and no injuries were reported.

Nelson said the fire was not near nuclear materials and none of the radioactive waste was affected.

The haul truck that caught fire is not used to carry radioactive waste, another site spokesperson Sona Herrick confirmed.

No waste containers were breached, although waste operations have been suspended, Herrick said.

Another local media KOB reported six workers were taken to an area hospital for smoke inhalation and were discharged a short while later.

It was not immediately known what sparked the fire or when the plant will resume operation.

WIPP stores "transuranic waste" leftover from nuclear weapons research and testing from the country's past defense activities, according to the Department of Energy website. That waste includes clothing, tools, rags and other debris contaminated with radioactive elements, largely plutonium.

Editor: Shen Qing
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