WIPP drivers surpass 16 million safe miles

May 2, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
A CAST Specialty Transportation truck delivering TRU waste packages to WIPP. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) recently marked a milestone after its drivers exceeded 16 million safe miles without a serious accident or injury—equivalent to 33 round trips to the moon or more than 642 trips around the world, the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management announced.

Located in southeastern New Mexico, WIPP is the DOE’s deep geological repository for defense-related transuranic waste. Since beginning operations in 1999, WIPP has received over 13,400 TRU waste shipments from 22 DOE sites across the country.

“The safety of our shipments and operations at WIPP is our top priority,” said Mark Bollinger, acting manager for DOE-EM’s Carlsbad Field Office. “What is really impressive is if you include the miles driven without waste shipments, it is over 32 million safe miles. The credit goes to the men and women who transport these shipments on a daily basis; they are the best in the business.”

Transport contractor: Since 2017, CAST Specialty Transportation has been the DOE’s sole transportation contractor for delivering TRU waste shipments to the underground waste repository. According to DOE-EM, WIPP drivers receive almost 200 hours of training before they transport their first shipment of TRU waste.

Drivers also must meet extensive driving and background requirements before being considered for employment, EM said. Prior to transporting a shipment of TRU waste, they receive specific training related to these shipments. This includes use of package securement devices, radiation detection equipment, and emergency management procedures.

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