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State denies requests by Los Alamos to delay toxic waste cleanup

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SANTA FE, New Mexico — The state is denying Los Alamos National Laboratory's request to extend deadlines for cleaning up toxic waste across its northern New Mexico campus.

The New Mexico Environment Department has sent more than 20 letters this month denying the lab for more time to meet deadlines under a 2005 consent order. In the letters, the state said past extensions were granted while the lab diverted resources to expedite the shipment of thousands of barrels of already processed waste to the government's underground nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico.

But that dump has been shuttered indefinitely by a mysterious radiation leak, meaning Los Alamos's plans to remove the last of those barrels are on hold.

Watchdog groups applauded the action, saying the closure of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant may put real cleanup back on track.

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