WIPP prepares to bring new ventilation system on line

November 27, 2023, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Electrical circuits are tested during the commissioning of the new ventilation system at WIPP. (Photo: DOE)

Commissioning has begun on a new large-scale ventilation system at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.

The Safety Significant Confinement Ventilation System (SSCVS) is expected to increase underground airflow from 170,000 cubic feet per minute up to 540,000 cfm. The increased airflow will allow for simultaneous underground waste emplacement, mining, and ground control work. Ground control, including bolting, controls the movement of salt rock—known as salt creep—in the WIPP underground.

WIPP utility shaft reaches station depth milestone

July 14, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

A truck hauls excavated salt away from the WIPP utility shaft project, marked by a large aboveground steel headframe. The shaft has reached the depth necessary to allow horizontal tunneling work to begin, which will connect the shaft to the WIPP underground repository complex. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Carlsbad Field Office announced that it has made a significant step toward increasing airflow to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) underground with the excavation of a new utility shaft. According to the office, crews working on the shaft recently reached an underground depth, known as station depth, that will allow horizontal tunneling work to begin on connecting the shaft to the WIPP repository complex.

Located in southeastern New Mexico, the repository for defense-related transuranic waste sits 2,150 feet below ground level. Airflow to the underground has been restricted following a radiological release in 2014.

When completed, the 26-foot-diameter utility shaft will provide air to WIPP’s new ventilation system, called the Safety Significant Confinement Ventilation System (SSCVS). The increased airflow provided by the system will allow for simultaneous mining, rock bolting, waste emplacement, and maintenance operations.

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.

Deep Isolation signs mentor-protégé agreement with WIPP contractor

February 28, 2023, 3:02PMRadwaste Solutions
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico. (Photo: DOE)

Waste management startup Deep Isolation announced that it has entered into a mentor-protégé agreement with Salado Isolation Mining Contractors (SIMCO), the new Bechtel National–led management and operations contractor for the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.

Bechtel’s SIMCO assumes WIPP operations

February 14, 2023, 3:02PMRadwaste Solutions
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico. (Photo: EPA)

Salado Isolation Mining Contractors (SIMCO), a single-purpose entity comprised of Bechtel National and Los Alamos Technical Associates as a teaming contractor, has assumed responsibility for managing and operating the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.