By Associated Press - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) - An official with the U.S. Department of Energy says workers at the federal government’s troubled nuclear waste repository will practice with “dummy drums” before limited operations resume next year.

Monica Regalbuto with DOE’s Office of Environmental Management testified Tuesday during a Senate hearing in Washington, D.C., that workers will start by moving non-radioactive drums.

When officials are confident the work can be done safely, workers will switch to dealing with real waste. That’s expected sometime next spring.

Regalbuto was pressed by Sen. Martin Heinrich about how soon full operations can resume at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, which has been closed for more than a year because of a radiation release.

Regalbuto told the New Mexico Democrat that will depend on the installation of a new permanent ventilation system.

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