Environmental Monitoring


Airborne Particulate Sampling
Airborne particulate sampling for radionuclides is performed weekly at seven primary sampling stations. Additional stations are used to monitor local and regional effects of Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) facility operations. Air sampling results are used to trend environmental radiological levels and determine if there has been a deviation from established background radiological levels. Additional event evaluation air sampling is performed at 17 locations (including duplicate sampling at the seven locations mentioned above) for potential evaluation in the event of a radiological release to the environment. Sampling results are reported annually in the Annual Site Environmental Report (ASER).

Airborne Effluent Monitoring

The WIPP facility has two effluent air monitoring stations, known as Stations B and C. Station B samples represent high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA)-filtered air exhausted to the surface atmosphere from the underground repository. Since a radiological event in 2014, the ventilation system has been operated in filtration mode, in which all air passes through a bank of HEPA filters before it is exhausted. Station C samples represent HEPA-filtered exhaust air from the Waste Handling Building to the surface atmosphere. The Station A sampler is not a designated effluent point but is used to assess the radiological contaminant concentration of ventilation air prior to HEPA filtration. Monitoring results are reported annually in the ASER.

Other Sampling

Other radiological environmental sampling includes groundwater, surface water, soils, sediments, vegetation and game animals. The goal of this monitoring is to determine if the local ecosystem has been, or is being, adversely impacted by WIPP facility operations and, if so, to evaluate the geographic extent and the effects on the environment. The sampling results are reported annually in the ASER.

Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring & Research Center (CEMRC)

CEMRC is a division of the College of Engineering at New Mexico State University. The CEMRC facility and staff provide support to WIPP primarily through site and environmental monitoring, in vivo bioassay, and scientific and laboratory support.