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WIPP marks pivotal milestone by completing construction of ventilation system
June 18, 2024

WIPP 14,000 Shipments Marks Milestone

CARLSBAD, N.M. — The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Environmental Management announced that a major milestone has been reached at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, NM. On June 14, the 14,000th shipment of defense-generated transuranic (TRU) nuclear waste was delivered to WIPP and emplaced in the underground repository.

“This marks an important milestone in our mission to clean up the country’s legacy waste dating back to World War II and Cold War eras. Achieving 14,000 shipments is the result of the hard work and dedication of the WIPP employees, as well as the staff at all the cleanup sites,” said Mark Bollinger, DOE’s Carlsbad Field Office manager. “It also reflects DOE’s continued focus on safely and compliantly cleaning up the environment for future generations.”

DOE has successfully cleaned up TRU waste from 22 nuclear production sites across the U.S. reducing risk for millions of Americans and the environment. TRU waste, a byproduct of the nation’s nuclear defense program, consists of materials like clothing, rags, tools, gloves, debris and residue leftover from handling items with radioactive properties. At the generator sites, these items are packaged and then secured inside TRUPACT containers, which are solid, shielded vaults. The waste is then transported to the WIPP underground repository and emplaced in perpetuity.

Every WIPP shipment meets all U.S. Department of Transportation requirements, and must pass a Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance Level VI inspection. This inspection ensures the shipment is 100% defect free when it departs the generator site. WIPP’s driver teams are highly trained and must meet stringent requirements prior to transporting a shipment. Shipment protocols were developed through cooperative efforts with states, tribal governments and the U.S. Department of Energy. All shipments are monitored and tracked using a satellite tracking system. To date, WIPP drivers have logged more than 16.5 million safe loaded miles.

“The employees who transport these shipments from the generator sites to WIPP deserve a lot of credit,” said Tammy Hobbes, vice president and operations/National TRU Program manager with Salado Isolation Mining Contractors, WIPP’s management and operations contractor. “Their attention to detail and focus on safety has a direct correlation to the success of WIPP.”

About WIPP

WIPP remains the United States’ only deep geological repository for nuclear waste. It’s a system of disposal rooms mined out of an ancient salt bed 2,150 feet underground. It has operated since 1999, celebrating its 25th anniversary of accepting transuranic waste from DOE cleanup sites across the U.S. The waste consists of items contaminated with small amounts of plutonium and other human-made radioactive elements. The waste has been accumulating since the 1940s as part of the nation’s nuclear defense program dating back to the Manhattan Project. To learn more about the WIPP project, please visit wipp.energy.gov or follow us on:
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Salado Isolation Mining Contractors, LLC (SIMCO) was formed to support the mission of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

SIMCO’s member is Bechtel National Inc. and its WIPP team includes Los Alamos Technical Associates as a New Mexico based teaming subcontractor.

SSCVS construction crews put the finishing touches on large ductwork