- Associated Press - Thursday, January 30, 2020

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) - A nuclear waste plant in New Mexico has announced plans to temporarily stop its waste acceptance and other operations to complete multiple maintenance projects at the facility, officials said.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is expected to cease its primary operations of receiving and disposing transuranic nuclear waste from Feb. 14 to March 15, The Carlsbad Current-Argus reported Wednesday.

Waste shipments would also be put on hold until the projects are completed, officials said.

The maintenance projects include replacing one of six head ropes at the facility’s waste hoist, U.S. Department of Energy officials said. Each rope is 2,200 feet (671 meters) and made up of 151 wires.

Other projects include electrical work on power substations, officials said.

Maintenance work is expected to take multiple days or be conducted in critical areas of the facility located 26 miles (42 kilometers) southeast of Carlsbad, New Mexico, facility officials said. The last week of the outage will see power cut to the facility and all but essential staff attending a training conference in Carlsbad, officials said.

The facility is also expecting a new access road so the plant could direct unrelated traffic away from the facility, officials said. The $8.9 million construction project on the northern access road into the plant was ongoing for months and will be cut down to a single lane until March 24, facility officials said.

“A new construction project will have trucks with material and equipment turning off the WIPP access road for the next couple of years, this will allow non WIPP traffic a by-pass,” said Khushroo Ghadiali, spokesman for Nuclear Waste Partnership, the contractor hired to oversee operations at the plant.

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