"For 11 years, the federal government has been burying nuclear waste in New Mexican salt beds at a place called WIPP, or the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. It's waste from making atomic weapons.
But now the government is looking for a place to put thousands of tons of spent fuel from reactors. These salt beds could be the place. New Mexicans, however, are faced with the prospect of becoming the nation's default nuclear waste dump.
The former mayor of Carlsbad, N.M., is solidly on the 'yes, bring it on' side. Say the word 'salt,' and he grins.
'The biggest asset we have are those salt beds out here east of town,' says Bob Forrest, as he sips iced tea in the restaurant of the Stevens Hotel. 'They've been out there 250 million years, and they've just proven perfect to put this kind of waste to store it permanently, and that's the key to our success.' "