By Associated Press - Monday, December 8, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The U.S. Department of Energy and one of its contractors have reached out to New Mexico, asking for an opportunity to discuss $54 million in penalties stemming from mishaps that forced the closure of the federal government’s troubled nuclear waste repository.

A senior DOE official and the contractor that manages the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southern New Mexico contacted state officials on Monday.

New Mexico Environment Secretary Flynn says it marks a positive first step in what’s sure to be a long process.

On Saturday, the state hand-delivered two compliance orders to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz that outlined numerous violations at the repository and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The DOE is reviewing the orders. The agency said Monday it is committed to complying with its responsibilities at both facilities.

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