By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — After seven years of mining, federal officials say work to carve out the eighth disposal area at the U.S. government’s underground nuclear waste repository is complete.
The repository has been in operation for more than two decades, having received nearly 13,000 shipments. The idea is that the shifting salt will eventually encapsulate the waste after the underground vaults are filled and sealed.
Reinhard Knerr, a manager with the Department of Energy’s Carlsbad Field Office, said the completion of Panel 8 was a long time coming but that it will be ready just in time. Panel 7 is expected to be full by April.
The rooms that make up Panel 8 are 300 feet (91 meters) long, 33 feet (10 meters) wide, and 15 feet (4.5 meters) high. Officials say laser measuring devices were used to guide the mining machines that cut the salt and large trucks were used to take the material to a hoist for transport to the surface.
Officials say more than 157,000 tons (142,428 metric tonnes) of salt were mined during the project.
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