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According to the memo, the presence of the Sundance fault could -- under certain conditions -- lead DOE to limit the size of the repository.
Stuckless counters that the unsolved puzzle need not threaten the repository plan because these deposits may be millions of years old -- so ancient that they would have little bearing on modern geologic activity at the site.
Carved from salt beds about 2,000 feet below ground, the repository was designed so that the rooms of ductile salt would slowly collapse and encapsulate the waste during the next hundred years.
Construction of the repository is set to begin in 1998, and the present schedule aims for an opening date in 2003, says Steven Kale, associate director for the DOE Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste.
The repository is designed so that the walls of salt will slowly collapse, enveloping the canisters of waste and sealing them in a watertight salt capsule.