- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) - Officials say a small portion of the ceiling at the federal government’s underground nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico has collapsed.

The U.S. Energy Department’s Carlsbad Field Office says the damage was spotted by geotechnical workers during an inspection last week. The office announced the finding Wednesday, saying it highlighted the need for workers to continue with roof bolting operations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

Access to the area where the ceiling collapsed has been restricted since November, and no plant personnel were present at the time of the fall.

Officials say the ceiling can be repaired.

The repository has been closed since last February, when a container of waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory ruptured and contaminated 22 workers and parts of the underground storage area.

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