The US Department of Energy on Friday said it would be unable to meet a deadline to remove drums of nuclear waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico because of safety concerns tied to the radiological materials.

New Mexico officials asked federal officials to remove 3,706 cubic meters of waste from a mesa on the Los Alamos complex, out of a concern that wildfires could reach the material.

Much of that nuclear waste has been removed, and the US Department of Energy had agreed to transfer the rest of it to a Texas facility by June 30.

But those shipments have been put on hold due to concerns about the chemical stability of the mixture in the containers that have arisen since it was discovered a drum from the federal Los Alamos National Laboratory may be behind a radiological leak at a repository near Carlsbad, New Mexico.

"As we work to assess the conditions of the transuranic waste program at the (Los Alamos) lab, we have decided to halt further shipments until we can reassure the public that it is safe to do so," David Klaus, an Energy Department secretary for management and performance, said in a statement.


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