Officials of the U.S. Department of Energy will meet with governors of three Western states Nov. 16 in Salt Lake City to discuss storage of radioactive waste.

Chris West, a DOE spokesman, said Friday the governors of New Mexico, Idaho and Colorado will meet with "a delegation of senior DOE people headed by Deputy Secretary Joseph F. Salgado.""It is my hope that this meeting will be a focal point for discussing the concerns of affected states about storage and the transportation of transuranic defense waste until such time as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico is operational," Energy Secretary John Herrington said in a news release.

Don Caviness, a spokesman for New Mexico Gov. Garrey Carruthers, said Carruthers "is most willing to talk (to DOE officials) any time. It's important to New Mexico to get this thing resolved."

Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus on Oct. 19 banned shipments of low-level radioactive and transuranic waste into his state until the federal government opens a permanent nuclear-waste repository.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico is a DOE project to bury defense-related low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste 2,150 feet below the surface in ancient salt beds 26 miles southeast of Carlsbad.

The plant's October opening was postponed until at least early next year after scientists raised questions about safety and a dispute arose in Congress over removing the site from public domain.

Carruthers has said he will oppose any attempt to open the plant until Congress passes the bill.

A boxcar full of waste was returned to the Rocky Flats, Colo., weapons plant earlier this week when Andrus turned it away from Idaho.

But Colorado Gov. Roy Romer has rejected a DOE request to expand storage facilities for low-level radioactive waste at Rocky Flats.

Andrus' ban means there is no central disposal site for nuclear wastes produced by 10 plants in the nation's nuclear weapons production system, a DOE spokesman said earlier this week.