The supplemental ventilation system installed in the air intake drift
WIPP's new hybrid (diesel/electric) bolter in the underground mine
A drill being run at WIPP's new Emergency Operations Center
Emergency response vehicles stationed in the WIPP underground

WIPP Update

December 1, 2016

Ground Control Progress in Panel 7

Underground operations personnel installed 360 bolts in one recent week – doubling the previous weekly record. The significant progress made in ground control maintenance over the past several weeks in the WIPP underground has exceeded expectations. Ground control is important to ensure safe working conditions for resuming waste emplacement.

“The performance of our underground operations crews has been outstanding,” said Phil Breidenbach, President and Project Manager of Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP). “They are improving ground control in some very difficult conditions, including working in personal protective equipment and respirators.”

Ground control includes the installation of steel bolts, which can range up to 20 feet in length, into the roof and walls of the mine. These bolts support and slow the natural movement that occurs in the underground salt formation where WIPP is located.

In additional to ground control efforts in the rooms and associated access drifts of Panel 7, the Carlsbad Field Office and NWP have submitted a request for a Temporary Authorization from the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) to move forward with closure activities associated with the withdrawal of the WIPP’s far south end. Deteriorating ground conditions, worker safety issues, the difficulties of rock bolting and ground control in contaminated areas, and the long-term integrity of the underground led to the decision to close the far south end, allowing for concentrated bolting in Panel 7 and associated drifts.

Panel 7 Bolting

An Underground Operations employee, wearing anti-contamination clothing and a respirator, installs bolts in Panel 7 of the WIPP underground.

DOE Operational Readiness Review

The DOE Operational Readiness Review team completed field activities last week and will present their findings by the end of this week. Restart of waste emplacement operations will be determined by the outcome of the team’s review and corrective actions defined as prestart findings that must be implemented and validated. NMED will also perform site inspections to ensure WIPP is in full compliance with its hazardous waste facility permit and administrative orders.
Successful completion of all the assessments and reviews, as well as associated corrective actions, will ensure the WIPP people and processes are ready for the safe and compliant resumption of waste emplacement activities.

Next WIPP Town Hall Meeting – December 8

The City of Carlsbad and DOE co-host Town Hall meetings to provide updates on WIPP recovery and restart activities. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, December 8, at 5:30 p.m. Location: Carlsbad City Council Chambers, 101 N. Halagueno Street. This meeting will be a special Town Hall focused on mining and ground control at the WIPP site. WIPP Town Hall Meetings are live streamed at



Reports and Plans


CBFO CAP Plan Waste Acceptance Criteria (WAC), Rev. 8

CBFO CAP Plan Documented Safety Analysis, Rev. 5b Chapters 0-18

CBFO CAP Plan Technical Safety Requirements

CBFO CAP Plan Safety Evaluation Report for Documented Safety Analysis, Rev. 5b

CBFO CAP Plan CBFO Corrective Action Plan for the Fire and Radiological Events, Rev. 1

NWP CAP Plan NWP Corrective Action Addendum for Radiological Release Event

AIB Phase II Report on the Feb. 14 Radiological Event

AIB Phase II Investigation Summary Slides

AIB Investigation Report on the Feb. 5 Fire

AIB Investigation Summary Slides

AIB Phase I Report on the Feb. 14 Radiological Event

AIB Phase I Investigation Summary Slides

Office of Environmental Management Corrective Action Plan for Fire Event

Office of Environmental Management Corrective Action Plan for the Radiological Event

Office of Enterprise Assessments Operational Analysis of Safety Trends at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, May 2014 - May 2015

NWP Corrective Action Plan for the Fire and Radiological Events

Technical Assessment Team Report

Supporting Documents

Supporting documents for the AIB and TAT reports