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WIPP replaces president, project manager

The contractor in charge of a troubled nuclear waste repository in southeast New Mexico has tapped a new president and project manager to lead the facility.

Bob McQuinn has been named to replace Farok Sharif as head of the Nuclear Waste Partnership, a division of San Francisco-based URS Corp. Sharif will shift to a role as project manager of the TRU Waste Program.

The shift in leadership comes as NWP attempts to investigate and recover from two separate incidents last month at the Waste Isolation Pilot Project outside Carlsbad. The underground repository has been shuttered since early February due to a truck fire in an underground salt mine and a subsequent radiation leak from the waste storage area.

“We are committed to returning WIPP to safe, compliant operations,” James Taylor, general manager of URS global management and operations services, said in a statement. “I am confident these structural realignments will strengthen our recovery efforts.”

In the new role, Sharif will transition waste to other locations while WIPP is not operational and work with other sites to develop plans for temporary storage of waste, URS said.

According to Sharif’s online biography, he is credited with helping WIPP ramp up the processing of waste deliveries from one or two per week to more than 30 shipments per week. Sharif served as president and general manager of Washington TRU Solutions, the contractor that preceded NWP.

URS is also planning to announce a newly created position called WIPP Recovery Manager in the coming days. Sharif and the recovery manager will both report to McQuinn, URS said.