BATS Part III: Carrying out phase 3 of the WIPP brine availability test in salt

March 25, 2022, 4:02PMRadwaste SolutionsMollie Rappe
Sandia National Laboratories researchers Melissa Mills, left, and Kristopher Kuhlman peer through a WIPP salt sample.

Last fall, scientists from Sandia, Los Alamos, and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories began the third phase of a years-long experiment to understand how salt and very salty water behave near hot nuclear waste containers in a salt-bed repository. Initiated in 2017, the Brine Availability Test in Salt (BATS) project is part of a spent nuclear fuel research campaign within the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE).

New area for TRU waste emplacement takes shape at WIPP

June 28, 2021, 3:05PMRadwaste Solutions
A map of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant underground, with a focus on Panels 7 and 8 at right. (Source: DOE EM)

The amount of salt mined so far from Panel 8 at the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is a lot. The DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) compared the amount to the weight of more than 46,000 Ford F-150s, about 16,000 African bush elephants, nearly 510 Boeing 747s, two Titanics, or enough to coat the rims of 3.6 million margarita glasses.

Miners working 2,150 feet underground extract the salt using grinders called continuous miner machines to create space to place defense-related transuranic (TRU) waste.

With WIPP’s Panel 8 scheduled for completion in a little more than half a year, crews recently crossed the 100,000-tons-mined threshold and, as of mid-June, are at 105,000 tons removed from the panel.