WIPP begins filling new disposal area - Albuquerque Journal

WIPP begins filling new disposal area

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the nation’s only underground nuclear waste repository, near Carlsbad, N.M. On Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, officials at the facility said workers there started using a newly mined disposal area at the repository. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)

Workers at the nation’s only underground nuclear waste repository have started using a newly mined disposal area at the underground facility in southern New Mexico.

Officials at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant made the announcement last week, saying the first containers of waste to be entombed in the new area came from Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee – one of the many labs and government sites across the country that package up waste and ship it to WIPP.

Known as Panel 8, the new area consists of seven separate rooms for placing special boxes and barrels packed with lab coats, rubber gloves, tools and debris contaminated with plutonium and other radioactive elements.

Each room measures 33 feet wide, 16 feet high and runs the length of a football field minus the end zones.

Carved out of an ancient salt formation about a half mile deep, the subterranean landfill located outside of Carlsbad received its first shipment in 1999. The idea is that the shifting salt will eventually entomb the radioactive waste left from decades of bomb-making and nuclear weapons research.

In 2014, a fire and separate radiation release forced a nearly three-year closure of the repository and a costly overhaul of the policies and procedures that govern WIPP and the nation’s multibillion-dollar cleanup program for Cold War-era waste.

Operations had to be reduced after the repository reopened because areas of the facility were contaminated and airflow needed for mining and disposal operations was limited. Now, a multimillion-dollar project is underway to install a new ventilation system, and state regulators are considering a permit change that some critics have said could lead to expanded operations.

The state Environment Department’s Hazardous Waste Bureau issued a plan this month aimed at ensuring the public has opportunities to comment on modifications or permit renewal applications.

Sean Dunagan, president and project manager of Nuclear Waste Partnership, the contractor that manages the repository, said in a statement that operations already have become more efficient with the new panel.

Creating a panel requires mining nearly 160,000 tons of salt, and it takes about 2½ years to fill it with waste. For example, Panel 7 is filled with 20,056 containers, with most of them being 55-gallon drums.

Home » ABQnews Seeker » WIPP begins filling new disposal area

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories




Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages

 

Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
1
Grammer: When it comes to fans, the obnoxious few ...
ABQnews Seeker
Utah State guard Max Shulga showed ... Utah State guard Max Shulga showed class in his response to unacceptable taunts from a few Colorado State students.
2
Man critically injured in Santa Fe shooting
ABQnews Seeker
A man was critically injured after ... A man was critically injured after being shot in a Santa Fe apartment complex on Saturday night.
3
Three teenagers found dead in garage in Edgewood
ABQnews Seeker
Police said in a news release ... Police said in a news release there is no indication of foul play and it appears to have been carbon monoxide poisoning.
4
Man, woman killed in Hobbs hit-and-run crash
ABQnews Seeker
A man and a woman were ... A man and a woman were killed in Hobbs on Friday night after being struck by a vehicle while walking their dog, according to ...
5
Child, 10, allegedly sexually assaulted by foster teen at ...
ABQnews Seeker
The offices of the state child ... The offices of the state child welfare agency are used to house foster children despite New Mexico’s promise to provide them with appropriate homes.
6
Civilians fill in for sworn officers at Albuquerque Police ...
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said ... Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said he sees hiring civilians as "the forefront of the wave of the future." He added: "The civilians are ...
7
How close did Albuquerque come to a record-high temperature?
ABQnews Seeker
Temperatures in the Duke City reached ... Temperatures in the Duke City reached 63 degrees, said Jennifer Shoemake, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque. That was the warmest ...
8
Study says New Mexico turning blind eye to several ...
ABQnews Seeker
A UNM study argues that the ... A UNM study argues that the state government, in its efforts to meet climate goals, stops short of requiring cuts to greenhouse gas emissions ...
9
5 things going on in Albuquerque this week
ABQnews Seeker
From hoops to a mid-week show, ... From hoops to a mid-week show, here’s what’s happening in the Albuquerque next week.