The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant can resume taking radioactive waste

The first load of nuclear waste arrives Friday, March 26, 1999, at 4 a.m. to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) site in Carlsbad, N.M., from Los Alamos National Labs. With festive fanfare, a scattering of protests and one arrest, the first load of plutonium-contaminated waste arrived at the nation’s first permanent nuclear dump — the eventual site for waste now stored in eastern Idaho. (AP Photo/Thomas Herbert)

A New Mexico nuclear waste repository can begin taking waste again – which included from Savannah River Site — after completing corrective actions on problems that kept it closed since 2014.

The first waste emplacements is expected to be done in early January after final ground control preparations are completed, according to a Department of Energy news release.

The repository stopped taking all waste shipments after an underground truck caught fire on Feb. 5, 2014. Nine days later, a radiation release contaminated workers. SRS last made a shipment of transuranic waste to WIPP on Feb. 3, 2014.

Transuranic waste is a widely varied form of low-level waste that includes tools, lab coats, debris and other items contaminated with radiation during the site’s production related to the manufacture of nuclear weapons. The DOE had identified 21 issues that needed resolving and validated before shipments could resume to dispose waste underground in an ancient salt bed deep beneath the desert.

In the release, Carlsbad Field Office (CBFO) Manager Todd Shrader said, “Extensive efforts to identify and implement corrective actions have resulted in a facility that is safer today and we look forward to the facility soon resuming its highly critical mission to dispose of the nation’s defense transuranic waste.”

The WIPP workforce, CBFO and NWP, will jointly focus on the completion of some minor ground control (floor leveling) that is necessary before initial waste emplacement begins, according to the release.

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Thu, 03/30/2017 - 00:53

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