Tour Preview


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The WIPP Virtual Tour takes you inside the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.  The tour follows the route of transuranic waste packages as they move to their final destination 2,150 feet beneath the surface. The tour begins as you are about to enter the WIPP facility.  Waste is delivered by truck to WIPP in TRUPACT-II containers.

Behind you is a parking lot for workers and visitors. Beyond the fence are the WIPP buildings. Just to the left and right of the WIPP sign are towers indicating the tops of shafts that lead to the mined underground area below. The tall beige structure behind the entry building is the waste handling tower, which has a shaft that also leads to the underground repository. That shaft is where the waste travels to the underground repository.  During the above-ground portion of the tour, the waste handling tower is a central landmark that is easily recognizable.

Before you start, right click on the photo and enable the Hot Spot Targets.  This will make your tour easier to navigate.  Double click on the gate straight ahead of you to enter the facility. Normally there are thorough inspection, security and safety procedures to be dealt with at this point. As a virtual visitor, you move directly to the intersection just inside the gate at the northwest corner of the site.

Double click at the end of the right-hand road. (You may also go up the left-hand road and explore the north and east sides of the facility, eventually getting to the south entrance, but we’ll take the shortest route today.) You are now in the parking lot of the southwest corner of the facility. To your right is a trailer loaded with two TRUPACT-II containers. These are empty containers used for training. The waste handling tower is still visible to the left.

Double click just to the right of the one-story buildings below and right from the waste handling tower. You have jumped to the south side of the waste handling facility with the tower directly above. The open door leads into an airlock.  You are now on your way in to the Waste Handling Building.

Double click on the airlock and the next viewpoint is inside the building. You can explore the west end of the building behind you and see an open TRUPACT-II on the platform to the left.

Meanwhile, to enter the underground repository, double click on the east end of the building. Ahead of you is a large gray door.

Double click on the door to enter the waste handling tower and ride the elevator or hoist to the passageways below.

Ahead of you is the passage leading into the mine.  To the right is the elevator you just exited.  Double-click to pass through an airlock. The next viewpoint has you looking at the drift to the waste storage area.  Double click to enter.

Straight ahead is Room 7, at the end of the passage way.  To the left is Room 1 and to the right, on the ground, is a box of Permian age rock salt.  Double click to enter Room 7.

You are now looking at TRU Waste packages located in the WIPP underground repository.  Overhead are roof bolts used to support the weight of the ceiling and behind is a dedication plaque for the Room.

To leave the facility, retrace your steps. Careful, its easy to get lost. (Hint: Right click your mouse and select “Show Hot Spot Targets.” Now follow the blue targets out of the mine and exit the facility.)


Sandia National Laboratories Cooperative Monitoring Center (CMC) in conjunction with WIPP
 is providing this virtual tour of the WIPP facility.