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Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 7:42am

Nuclear Waste Could Head West

Energy Department officials are considering shipping some plutonium from the Savannah River Site near Aiken to a federal storage site in New Mexico.

The Augusta, Ga., Chronicle reported the plan would send about 1,100 pounds of plutonium from old nuclear weapons to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M.

Much of the 34 metric tons of plutonium from old nuclear warheads is to be converted into fuel for commercial nuclear reactors.

But Energy Department spokesman Jim Giusti says some of the material is not suitable for fuel and could be stored in New Mexico.

The federal facility has a storage site 2,000 feet below the surface within layers of geologic salt.

The plutonium would be combined with a material that makes it less dangerous before being shipped.

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