By Susan Montoya Bryan
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Investigators say the lack of proper procedures, poor management and lapses in safety that led to radiation contamination inside the federal government's only underground nuclear waste repository could have been prevented.
The shortcomings of federal agencies and contractors were outlined in a final report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Energy's Accident Investigation Board.
Investigators spent more than a year looking into the cause of the radiation release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.
Like a separate team of experts, they too found that the release was caused by a chemical reaction inside a drum of waste that had been packaged at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The release contaminated workers and forced the indefinite closure of WIPP.
Federal officials say it could take years and cost more than a half-billion dollars to reopen the repository.