SENMC Supports Development of Workforce PipelineMarch 8, 2023
WIPP Day In Sante FeJanuary 23, 2023
A Thank You From NWP
Sean Dunagan, NWP President and Project Manager
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is a tremendous asset to southeastern New Mexico and to the nation, and Nuclear Waste Partnership is proud to have played an important role in WIPP’s critical environmental cleanup mission for the past decade.
In fact, our parent company, Amentum, and its legacy companies have continuously held the WIPP management and operations contract since it was first awarded almost 40 years ago. We have been part of many historic milestones at the facility, including the first waste shipment in 1999 and most recently, the final waste emplacement in the seventh underground panel.
Over that time, the concept that WIPP is based upon has been proven to be true — that salt is an ideal medium for the permanent disposal of transuranic nuclear waste. This concept makes it possible to rid the environment of a large amount of the nation’s defense-generated nuclear waste, creating a safer world for future generations.
It has also been proven that a nuclear facility and its host communities can work together for mutual success, a model that will hopefully pave the way for similar endeavors around the world. Thanks to the support of area officials, community leadership and local residents, WIPP was not only sited but has successfully continued its mission for decades.
In return, it has been a privilege for us to give back to the area, both financially and through the valuable time and talent of our employees, with many projects that will have a lasting impact.
Over just the last 10 years, NWP has funneled more than $4 million in charitable contributions into Carlsbad and the wider area, including $1 million to United Way charities, and has provided more than 7,500 volunteer hours. NWP and its legacy companies also donated $1.5 million in community development funds via the Carlsbad Department of Development.
Another priority has been education, with NWP contributing many volunteer hours and resources over the years, including funding for STEM centers in Carlsbad and Hobbs schools. NWP has also been proud to help sponsor community beautification efforts, including benches and shade structures in downtown Carlsbad and at many parks and playgrounds, and the pavilion near the Pecos River beach bandshell, which is used for many community events.
Over the last 10 years, NWP and our employees have never wavered in our commitment to the area and to the important mission of WIPP.
NWP crews emplaced 28,912 payload containers during that time, reaching 40 percent of WIPP’s capacity of 6.2 million cubic feet.
Milestones have included Sandia National Laboratories becoming the 22nd waste generator site to make its last transuranic waste shipment to WIPP and the emplacement of the final containers from 239 TRUPACT-III shipments. The TRUPACT-III cask reduced risk to workers at generator sites by eliminating the need to reduce the size of contaminated items.
Additionally, NWP has begun more than 20 plant improvement projects to address aging infrastructure and equipment at the WIPP site, where construction began back in the 1980s. Projects have included upgrades to the fire protection system, lightning protection system, underground communications system, Central Monitoring Room, Emergency Operations Center, locker rooms, lunchroom, and fiber-optic cable. These projects have prepared WIPP to continue safely operating for decades to come.
There have been challenges over the last 10 years, including events that closed the repository in 2014 and a worldwide pandemic, but those hurdles were successfully crossed thanks to the dedication of our employees and NWP’s demonstrated commitment to health and safety.
That commitment has included the largest construction effort at the site in 30 years. The Safety Significant Confinement Ventilation System and a new utility shaft are expected to increase the underground airflow of 170,000 cubic feet per minute to 540,000 cfm. The SSCVS will be the largest containment fan system in the DOE complex, and the utility shaft will be the largest at the site.
Along the way, WIPP again achieved Voluntary Protection Program Star status, an impressive safety milestone for any DOE site, and developed a leadership academy that is now considered a DOE best practice.
As the time nears for a new management and operations contractor to take the reins, NWP would like to say thank you to WIPP’s host communities for your support over the years. It is because of your active partnership that so much important work has been done for the nation and in southeastern New Mexico. As a new chapter begins, my family and I will miss being a part of WIPP and the communities where we live and work.
My family and I will always be very grateful that we were part of the success story of one of the greatest environmental cleanup projects in the country. Most importantly, I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to work with the best people I know – our employees! It has been an honor and pleasure I will never forget.