New Mexico's two U.S. senators are welcoming more than $54 million in penalties being levied against the U.S. Department of Energy for numerous violations that resulted in the indefinite closure of the nation's only underground nuclear waste repository.
The state Environment Department on Saturday announced it was imposing the penalties for 30 state-permit violations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico and at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Sen. Martin Heinrich issued a statement over the weekend saying the state's action is warranted. He also said the fines shouldn't jeopardize completion of the environmental cleanup at Los Alamos and at the repository in Carlsbad.
Similarly, fellow Democratic Sen. Tom Udall said the state's action shows why state environmental authority is needed over WIPP waste operations.