New Mexico approves WIPP’s 10-year permit renewal

October 12, 2023, 9:31AMRadwaste Solutions
Mining crews view progress in an ongoing mining tunnel, known as a drift, at the WIPP facility in New Mexico. (Photo: DOE)

The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) signed a final order approving a 10-year permit renewal for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), the nation’s deep geologic repository for defense-related transuranic (TRU) waste.

DOE-EM awards cleanup grants and cooperative agreements

October 2, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Workers remove contaminated sediment from the SRS in South Carolina. A $19 million DOE grant will support state monitoring of the site. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management has awarded nearly $54 million in noncompetitive financial assistance grants and cooperative agreements to help support the office’s cleanup program. DOE-EM is responsible for environmental legacy cleanup of the effects of decades of nuclear weapons development and government-sponsored nuclear energy research.

New Mexico publishes final proposed permit for WIPP

August 21, 2023, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions

The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) released the proposed final permit for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant renewal process on August 15. The NMED also announced a public hybrid meeting scheduled for September 22, where the public will have the opportunity to ask questions about the proposed final permit.

DOE, New Mexico reach agreement on WIPP permit renewal

June 30, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, near Carlsbad, N.M. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management and the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) have negotiated a settlement on terms to renew the 10-year operating permit for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M. The DOE, along with WIPP’s operating contractor, Salado Isolation Mining Contractors, and the NMED negotiated the settlement with New Mexico stakeholders.

New Mexico tightens restrictions on WIPP permit renewal

December 14, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
A radiological control technician checks radiation readings on waste containers at WIPP. (Photo: WIPP)

The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) is adding several conditions to the operating permit for the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, N.M. The permit changes, which would prioritize the disposal of transuranic (TRU) waste generated in the state and limit the repository’s capacity, are contained in a fact sheet the NMED.

Sparks from Los Alamos waste drum prompt WIPP evacuation

April 2, 2021, 6:56AMRadwaste Solutions

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant's underground repository in New Mexico was evacuated for 13 days in March following an incident at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where a drum being packed with transuranic waste began emitting sparks.

As reported on March 31 by the Carlsbad Current Argus, an evacuation order was given on March 5 after WIPP was informed by the National Nuclear Security Administration that similar at-risk drums from LANL were emplaced for disposal in the repository. The order was lifted on March 18 after it was determined that the drums were compliant with WIPP’s waste acceptance criteria and did not pose a risk.

New Mexico denies authorization extension for WIPP utility shaft

November 30, 2020, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

Construction of a new utility shaft at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant transuranic waste repository may be put on hold after the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) denied a request by the Department of Energy and its contractor to extend state authorization of the project. The shaft is part of WIPP’s Safety Significant Confinement Ventilation System, a $300-million project intended to allow simultaneous mining and waste emplacement activities in the geologic repository by increasing ventilation to the underground.

The NMED in April 2020 approved a request by the DOE and WIPP operator Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP) for temporary authorization to begin construction of the utility shaft while the state reviews a modification to WIPP’s permit allowing the addition to the repository. That authorization expired on October 24, and the DOE and NWP asked for an extension of the authorization for an additional 180 days while the permit modification process continues.