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1998 News Releases

DOE Notifies States and Tribes That First Shipment To WIPP Could Occur as Early as Mid-January - December 18, 1998

International Scientists, Engineers Make Stop in Carlsbad To Tour WIPP, Environmental Monitoring Center - November 19, 1998

WIPP Exercise Termed Success By Utah, DOE Officials - November 16, 1998

WIPP Contractor To Participate In Lea County Procurement Workshop - November 12, 1998

WIPP Crews Complete One Maintenance Project, On Schedule to Finish Second by Mid-December - November 10, 1998

Energy Department Awards $300,000 to City of Carlsbad To Help Boost Region's Economic Planning - November 4, 1998

Mansour Akbarzadeh Appointed WIPP Laboratories Manager - November 4, 1998

WIPP Mine Rescue Team Members Bring Home Four Awards From Missouri Competition - November 2, 1998

WIPP Engineer James Hedin Receives Energy Engineering Certification - October 30, 1998

Westinghouse Official Recognizes Community Programs With Contributions - October 30, 1998

Westinghouse Official Presents $7,000 Check to Local United Way - October 28, 1998

WIPP Pumps $13.8 Million Into New Mexico Businesses In Fiscal Year 1998 - October 14, 1998

Westinghouse Recognized for Safety Practices at WIPP - October 13, 1998

Westinghouse Receives Mine Safety Awards for Exceptional Underground Operations - October 12, 1998

Romanian Nuclear Officials Tour Waste Isolation Pilot Plant - October 6, 1998

Business Officers, Educators Credit DOE Program for Increased Sales, Cost Savings, Enhanced Training - August 20, 1998

U.S.-Mexico Hazardous Waste Forum Results in Shared Commitment; Carlsbad Area Office Proposed as Technology Broker for Cleanup Effort - August 17, 1998

Carlsbad Area Office Submits Comments to NMED On Draft Hazardous Waste Facility Permit for WIPP - August 14, 1998

Carlsbad to Hold Technology Forum To Discuss Potential Applications of Department of Energy Cleanup Technologies - August 7, 1998

Hershel "Budd" Lucus Named Manager of Underground Operations at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant - July 29, 1998

Subhash C. Sethi Named Deputy Manager of Operations at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant - July 29, 1998

WIPP’s Joe Baca Wins National Competition - July 17, 1998

Emergency Response Professionals Converge on Carlsbad For Specialized Radiological Training - July 15, 1998

Department of Energy Releases 1998 Environmental Cleanup Report -- Paths to Closure Outlines Approach for World's Largest Environmental Cleanup -- June 30, 1998

Dr. Jim Mewhinney Named Assistant Manager for WIPP Office of Development and Research - June 25, 1998

Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board Gives WIPP ‘Green Light’ to Operate - June 22, 1998

DOE and New Mexico Environment Department Reach Agreement on WIPP - June 19, 1998

Gary Scott Named Deputy Manager Of DOE’s Carlsbad Area Office - June 2, 1998

Westinghouse Releases Socioeconomic Study of the WIPP - May 29, 1998

WIPP Waste Disposal Personnel Enhance Qualifications Through Hands-On Training - 5/29/98

DOE Reports High Volume of Visits To WIPP Home Page - May 28, 1998

Carlsbad Company Lands WIPP Backfill Contract - May 22, 1998

WIPP Mine Rescue Teams Dominate Southern Regional Competition - May 20, 1998

Statement of Acting Manager for DOE Environmental Management on the Opening of the WIPP - May 13, 1998

Energy Secretary Notifies Congress Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Ready to Open - May 13, 1998

Carlsbad Area Office Manager Welcomes NMED’s Action In Issuing Draft RCRA Permit For WIPP - May 11, 1998

Artesia and Roswell Community Leaders to Hear WIPP Update - 5/11/98

Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory Receives Certification to Ship Transuranic Waste - May 8, 1998

International Scientists to Converge on Carlsbad To Discuss Nuclear Waste Disposal Issues - May 4, 1998

New Mexico Governor Participates in Ceremony To Recognize DOE Milestone of 5000th Technology Transfer - April 20, 1998

Santa Fe Mayor, DOE, State Find Alternative to Waste Shipment Plan - April 7, 1998

Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site Authorized to Implement WIPP Program Requirements - April 7, 1998

Carlsbad Area Office Notifies Energy Secretary WIPP Operational Readiness Review is Complete - April 1, 1998

DOE Completes WIPP Operational Readiness Review - 3/23/98

Westinghouse Awards Contract To New Mexico Computer Firm - 3/23/98

WIPP Ambulance First to Earn State Registration - 3/13/98

Westinghouse Employees Achieve One Million Safe Work Hours - 3/13/98

WIPP Employees Earn Radiological Control Qualification - 3/5/98

Westinghouse Offers $6,400 in College Scholarships to Eddy County Students - 3/2/98

WIPP Elevator Back in Service Following Temporary Shutdown - 2/28/98

Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division Informs DOE of Readiness at WIPP - 2/26/98

WIPP Personnel Plan Activities For National Engineers Week - 2/20/98

WIPP Presentation Scheduled for Wyoming Legislators - 2/20/98

WIPP Presentation Scheduled For Idaho Legislators - 2/20/98

David P. Reber Named Manager of Operations At Waste Isolation Pilot Plant - 2/17/98

WIPP and Other Carlsbad Organizations Win 1997 New Mexico Quality Awards - 2/4/98

Department of Energy Issues Decisions on Transuranic Waste; Support Opening of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant - 1/22/98

Colorado, New Mexico Congressmen Join Department of Energy Officials To Dedicate WIPP Disposal Room - 1/12/98

WIPP Scientists Dispute "Air Drilling" Report - 1/8/98

New Mexico State and Federal Leaders Attend DOE Dedication of WIPP Disposal Room - 1/8/98

 


DOE Notifies States and Tribes That First Shipment To WIPP Could Occur as Early as Mid-January

CARLSBAD, N.M., December 18, 1998 - At the direction of Secretary Bill Richardson, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today issued notification letters to states, tribes and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the first shipment of transuranic waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) could occur in mid-January. The shipments will depend on litigation in U.S. District Court, and a ruling could be issued by the court as early as mid-January.

The letters sent to states and tribes are required by agreements DOE entered into with these entities to provide advance notification and information about any shipments going to WIPP. The letters were sent based on the Department's estimate of the earliest date that WIPP could receive non-mixed transuranic waste.

The New Mexico Environment Department recently determined that 116 drums of waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory were accurately characterized as non-mixed transuranic waste (not hazardous waste) and could be disposed of at WIPP prior to issuance of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permit. DOE will not begin shipments of mixed waste (a mixture of radioactive and hazardous wastes) until the New Mexico Environment Department issues a RCRA permit.

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE's national clean-up strategy, is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste generated by defense activities.

Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (almost one-half mile) underground.Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

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International Scientists, Engineers Make Stop in Carlsbad To Tour WIPP, Environmental Monitoring Center

CARLSBAD, N.M., November 19, 1998 - More than 80 scientists and engineers representing the United States and 10 other countries are scheduled to arrive in Carlsbad Friday, November 20, to tour the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) and the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center (CEMRC).

Throughout this week (November 15-19), the group attended the 44th Annual Conference on Bioassay, Analytical, and Environmental Radiochemistry in Albuquerque at the Marriott Hotel. More than 350 experts from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Israel, Russia, France and other countries shared knowledge and experiences while exploring technological advancements in radiochemistry and radiation measurement.

"These are some of the leading experts in the field of radiochemistry," said Joe Epstein, General Manager of the Westinghouse Electric Company's Waste Isolation Division. "Having scientists and engineers of this caliber in Carlsbad emphasizes the high level of international focus on solving the problem of nuclear waste disposal by opening and operating the WIPP."

Epstein opened the conference on Tuesday, welcoming participants from the DOE, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, utility organizations, state agencies, research institutions and commercial organizations. Westinghouse's Dr. Chuan-Fu Wu served as chairman for the conference. Sixty-two papers and 15 workshops were presented during the five-day event.

The DOE's Carlsbad Area Office and Albuquerque Operations Office, Westinghouse, Sandia National Laboratories, CEMRC, and the New Mexico Environmental Evaluation Group sponsored the event.

Tours of WIPP and CEMRC will provide conference participants an opportunity to explore the technical advances made by New Mexico scientists and engineers in the fields of radiochemistry and radiation measurement.

"This is a great opportunity for the Carlsbad Area Office and Westinghouse to showcase the radiation monitoring techniques that have been used to collect baseline information for the WIPP," said Epstein.

Westinghouse serves as the management and operating contractor for the DOE's Carlsbad Area Office at the WIPP. The CEMRC, established in 1991 through New Mexico State University, provides independent environmental research and monitoring in the vicinity of the WIPP.

For more information on the conference, please go to http://www/sandia.gov/RPSD/Bio98.htm on the Internet, or call the WIPP Information Center at 1-800-336-WIPP (9477).

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WIPP Transportation Exercise Termed Success By Utah, DOE Officials

CARLSBAD, N.M., November 16, 1998 - Emergency personnel from Tremonton, Utah, have successfully demonstrated in a training exercise that they are prepared to respond should an accident occur involving a shipment of transuranic radioactive waste headed for the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

The training exercise was held November 14 at the Box Elder County Fairgrounds near Tremonton. Several dozen firefighters, police officers and medical personnel took part in the three-hour event.

"This training exercise clearly illustrates that emergency responders are prepared to provide aid should an accident occur involving a WIPP shipment," said Ralph Smith, spokesman for the DOE's Carlsbad Area Office. "The city of Tremonton and the state of Utah ensured that local emergency responders are properly trained and prepared to react to any accident involving hazardous or radioactive materials."

Emergency responders along transportation routes for WIPP shipments are offered training through the DOE's States and Tribal Education Program (STEP). The program, initiated in 1988, offers courses in responding to potential incidents involving shipments of waste to the WIPP.

Shipments of radioactive waste from the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory and the Hanford reservation in Washington State are tentatively scheduled to begin in 1999 and would travel U.S. Interstates 15 and 84 through Utah, en route to the WIPP.

After initially reviewing and certifying STEP courses in 1993, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration recertified the program in 1997. More than 12,000 emergency response personnel have been trained through STEP.

Initial response to an actual incident would most likely come from local "first responders," such as state or local police departments, fire departments, and other emergency response personnel. State and local governments have emergency response plans that outline specific procedures for handling a hazardous materials transportation accident safely and effectively.

Local first responders are trained in material identification, regulations, response procedures, and personal protection. In the event of an accident, local responders would usually contact state public health agencies, and, if necessary, the first response team would be followed by the appropriate DOE Radiological Assistance Team and eventually augmented by the DOE Carlsbad Area Office's Incident/Accident Response Team, which would be on standby while transuranic waste shipments are in progress.

The DOE Albuquerque Operations Office Emergency Operations Center would take the lead role in any accident involving a shipment of transuranic waste, regardless of where the accident occurs. Response would be automatic and not contingent on a state request for assistance. The DOE maintains regional offices that can receive calls for assistance 24 hours a day and are prepared to send trained personnel and equipment to incident sites.

The Tremonton exercise simulated an accident that involved a WIPP truck, a van carrying pesticide, and a passenger vehicle. As part of the exercise, emergency responders were required to follow strict radioactive/hazardous materials training procedures while administering mock medical aid to the injured.

"The exercise did exactly what it was designed to do - show local responders their strengths and weaknesses," said Bill Craig, WIPP Coordinator for the State of Utah. "From that aspect, it was a total success."

A cornerstone of the DOE's national clean-up strategy, the WIPP is designed to permanently dispose of radioactive transuranic waste generated by defense-related activities.

Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated 2,150 (almost half a mile) underground in an ancient, stable salt formation.

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WIPP Contractor To Participate In Lea County Procurement Workshop

CARLSBAD, N.M., November 12, 1998 -- Employees from Westinghouse Electric Company's Waste Isolation Division will take part in the Lea County Procurement Workshop, scheduled for 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday (November 14) in Bob Moran Hall at New Mexico Junior College, 5317 Lovington Highway in Hobbs.

Westinghouse, the management and operating contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), will provide Lea County companies with information on how to do business with WIPP, including how to fill out applications to become a qualified vendor. A team of procurement specialists will be on hand to provide information and answer questions.

Members of Westinghouse's Technology Transfer Program will also be available to explain how businesses, educational institutions and taxpayers can obtain WIPP-developed technology at no cost.

The Technology Transfer Program is designed to promote economic development and competitiveness in the private sector, improve the quality of organizational operations, enhance education and training, and ensure maximum return on taxpayer investment. The technology, which consists mainly of managerial assessment tools, training materials, and technical manuals developed at the WIPP, is available at no cost to organizations.

Additionally, a person from the Westinghouse Program Management group and a representative of Quality New Mexico are scheduled to attend. Westinghouse is heavily involved in the Quality New Mexico organization, which recognizes companies for leadership, information and analysis, strategic planning, human resource development and planning, process management, business results, and customer focus and satisfaction.

The day-long workshop, titled "How to Grow Your Business and Survive the Oil Slump," is sponsored by Westinghouse, New Mexico Junior College, Hobbs Chamber of Commerce, Lovington Chamber of Commerce, Southwestern Public Service Company, Economic Development Corporation of Lea County, and Lovington Economic Development Corporation.

For more information about any of the Westinghouse programs, please call the WIPP Information Center, toll free, at 1-800-336-WIPP (9477). Janet Seagrave of the Lea County Economic Development Corporation (397-2039) can answer questions about the workshop.

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WIPP Crews Complete One Maintenance Project, On Schedule to Finish Second by Mid-December

CARLSBAD, N.M., November 10, 1998 - Underground operations crews at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) have completed one major maintenance project at the facility and are on schedule to complete a second project by mid-December.

Both projects are in the underground, 2,150 feet below the earth's surface, and involve maintenance of the facility's waste shaft. The waste shaft and waste conveyance (elevator) are used to transport people and equipment to the underground. When the WIPP opens, the system will transport transuranic radioactive waste to the underground for permanent disposal.

The first maintenance project was in the waste shaft sump area 120 feet below the 2,150-foot underground level. The second project involves the underground waste shaft station just outside the boundaries of the waste shaft.

Workers began the waste shaft sump remediation project September 21 and completed it October 2. The sump, the deepest part of the shaft, allows space for some of the workings of the waste conveyance. The work included cleanup and maintenance of the sump area, as well as refurbishing components of the conveyance support system.

"The sump is a very difficult area in which to work and thus presents us with special safety challenges," said Kent Hunter, Assistant Manager for Disposal Operations at the Department of Energy's Carlsbad Area Office. "As always, the work was completed safely and also ahead of schedule."

The second project, which began in mid-October and requires two shifts, involves replacing the underground rail system that extends from the waste shaft to the east about 170 feet. The system is similar to that of a typical railroad track but is designed to adjust to the natural movement of the WIPP's underground salt formation. The rails are used to help unload equipment from a rail car that rides in the conveyance to the underground. In the future, the rail system will be used to unload transuranic waste.

"This is a significant project which had to be well-planned from start to finish. This major effort has to be squeezed in such a way as to not impact our normal operations or effect our readiness to begin waste disposal operations," said Hunter. "The project is on schedule for the mid-December completion date."

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE's national clean-up strategy, is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste generated by defense activities.

Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (almost one-half mile) underground.

Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

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Energy Department Awards $300,000 to City of Carlsbad To Help Boost Region's Economic Planning

CARLSBAD, N.M., November 4, 1998 -- The U.S. Department of Energy today awarded $300,000 to the City of Carlsbad to prepare a strategic economic analysis and action plan for the Eddy County, N. M., area and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

"This is another example of the Department's investment in the communities that support our operations," said Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. "It presents an additional opportunity for the region to leverage the world-class science and technology resources of the Carlsbad Area Office and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, and to expand its economic strengths, build new businesses and create new jobs."

The main goal of this plan is to coordinate public and private development efforts that will help ensure a strong economic future for Carlsbad and Eddy County. These efforts will seek to build on the region's strong and viable workforce, to further advance economic growth and job creation. The focus of the effort will be to help local businesses and industries keep their economic viability, while fostering additional business start-ups in Eddy County.

The strategic analysis will focus on the region's economic development capabilities, including:

Demographic structure and functioning of the regional economy

  • Industry clusters with significant competitive advantage and growth potential

  • Region's assets with the potential to support business expansion and new business development

  • Identification of barriers to economic development and suggested strategies for their removal

  • Identification of new policies, programs and partnerships to promote regional economic development, and drawing upon best practices.

The results of will form the basis of an action plan that will help define a new and more dynamic relationship between WIPP and the region's economy.

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Mansour Akbarzadeh Appointed WIPP Laboratories Manager

CARLSBAD, N.M., November 4, 1998 - Westinghouse Electric Company's Waste Isolation Division (WID) has appointed senior scientist and radiochemist Mansour Akbarzadeh as manager of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) Laboratories.

Akbarzadeh, of Carlsbad, who joined Westinghouse in February 1997 as a senior scientist, oversees the day-to-day operations and radiochemical analysis in the laboratories. Radiochemistry analysis includes measuring background radiation from the environment and from WIPP employees.

Background radiation documented prior to the WIPP's opening provides a baseline to which scientists will compare radiation measurements after the WIPP opens. This further ensures the project will have no adverse impact on the public health or the environment.

"The staff in the WIPP Laboratories performs a vital function for the project," said Westinghouse General Manager Joe Epstein. "Mr. Akbarzadeh has the knowledge and experience to continue this important work."

Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office at the WIPP.

Akbarzadeh, who earned a chemistry degree from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, leads a staff of three scientists and three technicians.

He came to WIPP from Accu-Labs Research Inc. in Golden, Colo., where he worked as a radiochemist and supervisor from 1991 to 1997. During his tenure at Accu-Labs, Akbarzadeh developed many of the procedures for analyzing neptunium-237, nickel-63 and carbon-14. Elements radiochemists look for at the WIPP include plutonium, uranium, americium, strontium, cobalt and cesium.

The WIPP Laboratories program is a member of the U.S. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). For acceptance to the national organization, WIPP laboratory scientists had to successfully identify and correctly measure samples tainted with radioactive isotopes. The WIPP program also participates in environmental measurement activities through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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WIPP Mine Rescue Team Members Bring Home Four Awards From Missouri Competition

CARLSBAD, N.M., November 2, 1998 - Members of mine rescue teams at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) brought home first, second, third and fourth place awards from a recent competition in Rolla, Mo.

The 16th Annual Southeast Missouri Mine Rescue Competition included teams from Kansas, Missouri and New Mexico.

The WIPP has two mine rescue teams, the Silver Team and the Blue Team. For the Missouri competition, members of both teams formed a third team. The change tested their abilities to work with colleagues other than those on their particular mine rescue teams. Such competitions also allow mine rescuers to hone their skills by responding to mock accidents, first-aid scenarios and other such tests.

The WIPP's Mike Proctor, Mitch Carter and Gary Kessler brought home the first place award in the first-aid competition.

The field exercise, a mock accident, involved an underground fire, three missing people, changes in ventilation and complex mapping. The WIPP team finished second out of eight teams in the field competition.

A third contest, called the bench competition, tests the "benchman's" ability to quickly, but thoroughly, inspect a self-contained breathing apparatus, find defects in the apparatus and repair them. The work is done while the apparatus sits atop a bench. The breathing apparatus, which provides four hours of protection from carbon monoxide poisoning, is inspected before rescue personnel respond to a mine disaster. The WIPP's Joe Baca finished third in the bench competition, while teammate Richard West finished fourth.

A cornerstone of the DOE's national clean-up strategy, the WIPP is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste generated by defense-related activities.

Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (almost half a mile) underground.

Transuranic waste consists primarily of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

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WIPP Engineer James Hedin Receives Energy Engineering Certification

CARLSBAD, N.M., October 30, 1998 - An elite organization of engineers recently certified Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) engineer James Hedin as an energy manager, a designation given to those with proven knowledge and experience in the many aspects of energy systems, use and conservation.

Hedin, who is employed at the WIPP by Westinghouse Electric Company's Waste Isolation Division, is one of 4,000 engineers in the United States certified through the Association of Energy Engineers, based in Atlanta, Ga. The organization consists of professional engineers who work in energy-related fields such as utilities or architectural engineering, or, in Hedin's case, who oversee a facility's power systems.

Among the organization's certification criteria is proven success in energy- and cost-savings initiatives. Under Hedin's direction, the WIPP is on the leading edge of technology in high-bay lighting, which requires high-intensity lighting systems to illuminate the area below tall ceilings. The WIPP will be the first to use the new fluorescent technology, which will improve the lighting, as well as save energy and money. This is just one example of several energy programs at the WIPP that place cost-savings, energy conservation and safety as priorities.

"James Hedin is a valuable asset to this company and to this facility," said Westinghouse General Manager Joe Epstein. "His pledge to ensuring the WIPP uses high-quality and cost-efficient power systems is a benefit to this project and to taxpayers."

Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor at the WIPP for the U.S. Department of Energy's Carlsbad Area Office.

Hedin also studies and analyzes the systems used at the WIPP and performs long-range planning to ensure any equipment purchased meets demands for efficiency, quality and durability.

In addition to recognizing Hedin's foresight in energy conservation, the Association of Energy Engineers tested Hedin's education and experience. He successfully passed a four-hour exam that covered 16 topics ranging from knowledge of mechanical and electrical systems to various codes and standards, such as federal regulations.

Hedin's certification helps Westinghouse fulfill requirements that the WIPP employ energy managers knowledgeable about the fundamentals of energy systems, codes and professional standards.

This is not the first time Hedin has been recognized for his abilities. Last year, the Federal Energy Management Program and the DOE Albuquerque Operations Office honored Hedin for his energy-saving initiatives at the WIPP by naming him an energy champion and Energy Manager of the Year.

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Westinghouse Official Recognizes Community Programs With Contributions

CARLSBAD, N.M., October 30, 1998 - James L. Gallagher, president of Westinghouse Electric Company's Government and Environmental Services Company, visited Carlsbad October 27-28 to meet with city leaders and personally deliver contributions to several community programs.

"Westinghouse remains committed to Carlsbad and the welfare of its citizens," Gallagher said. "Our employees continually demonstrate their willingness to support the city's community programs through their generous donations of time and money. It is a pleasure to be able to supplement their gifts and visit some of the programs they support."

During his visit in Carlsbad, Gallagher presented approximately $130,000 to eight community organizations - the Carlsbad Municipal School District, the Girl Scouts, Family Hospice, Keep Carlsbad Beautiful, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Community Food Kitchen, the United Way of Carlsbad and South Eddy County, and the Carlsbad Association for Retarded Citizens.

The donations reflect a portion of the approximately $250,000 Westinghouse contributes annually to community programs in Carlsbad.

Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy's Carlsbad Area Office at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

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Westinghouse Official Presents $7,000 Check to Local United Way

CARLSBAD, N.M., October 28, 1998 - Westinghouse Electric Company official James L. Gallagher today presented a $7,000 check to the United Way of Carlsbad and South Eddy County.

The check represents slightly more than 10 percent of Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division (WID) employees' contributions to the agency for 1998. WID employees gave roughly $68,500 to the United Way in 1998 and are expected to donate about $69,000 in 1999.

"Westinghouse is a strong supporter of the United Way," said Gallagher, president of Westinghouse's Government and Environmental Services Company. "Our WID employees have consistently demonstrated great generosity in helping their community organizations. I am extremely proud of them and very pleased to present our largest matching amount to date."

The company began matching WID employees' contributions in 1989 and has since given $65,003, including today's $7,000 donation. WID employees began contributing to the local United Way in 1988 and have donated a total of $551,665 to date.

Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). The company currently employs about 630 people at the WIPP.

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WIPP Pumps $13.8 Million Into New Mexico Businesses In Fiscal Year 1998

CARLSBAD, N.M., October 14, 1998 -- Westinghouse Electric Company's Waste Isolation Division (WID) today released figures showing that it spent more than $13.8 million with New Mexico businesses for goods and services in fiscal year 1998 to support its work at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor at the WIPP for the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office.

WID spent a total of $13,850,000 from October 1, 1997 through September 30, 1998, on behalf of the DOE to purchase goods and services from suppliers located throughout New Mexico.

Among the items and services purchased were computer equipment, electrical and industrial supplies, office supplies and furniture, environmental monitoring equipment, exhibit materials, minor construction work, employee training programs, engineering consulting services, calibration services, waste management services, and environmental consulting services.

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE's national clean-up strategy, is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste generated by defense-related activities.

Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (almost half a mile) underground.

Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

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Westinghouse Recognized for Safety Practices at WIPP

CARLSBAD, N.M., October 13, 1998 - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has once again recognized Westinghouse Electric Company's Waste Isolation Division for outstanding safety practices at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

A six-member team from various DOE offices nationwide recently completed an intense review of the Waste Isolation Division's safety procedures, concluding that a strong safety culture exists at the WIPP. Based on this observation, the team verified that the company's Integrated Safety Management System (ISMS) is intact and effective.

"There is a strong safety culture in place at the WIPP," said Roy Schepens, Team Leader of the ISMS Review Team. "The management team and employees were found to be competent and highly aware of safety and safety integration issues."

Since becoming the management and operating contractor at the WIPP in 1985, Westinghouse has been recognized on numerous occasions for its outstanding safety record, including - most recently - recommendation for re-certification as a "Star" site under the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP).

Patterned after a similar program sponsored by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the VPP was established by the DOE in 1993 to recognize superior performance in the field of safety and health by contractor management and their employees. "Star" status is the highest level that can be achieved under VPP guidelines.

"The objective of Integrated Safety Management System is to systematically integrate safety considerations into management and work practices at all levels to accomplish the company's mission while protecting the public, the worker, and the environment, said Joe Epstein, Waste Isolation Division General Manager.

"Simply put, it means to perform work safely. I believe that this comprehensive look at our safety culture, and the resulting comments from the DOE team, are testimonials to the outstanding group of people we have working here."

Other awards and recognition for Westinghouse include:

  • Two awards of "honor" from the National Safety Council;

  • A no-lost-time three million work hour record in 1992;

  • The state of New Mexico Inspector of Mines "Operator of the Year" award for 12 consecutive years;

  • Outstanding Mine Safety and Health Administration inspection results; and

  • Inspector comments lauding the plant as a "model of safety."

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE's cleanup effort, is designed to permanently dispose of defense-generated transuranic radioactive waste left from the research and production of nuclear weapons.

Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet underground.

Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues, and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, including plutonium.

Westinghouse employs about 630 people at the WIPP.

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Westinghouse Receives Mine Safety Awards for Exceptional Underground Operations

CARLSBAD, N.M., October 12, 1998 - For the twelfth consecutive year, Westinghouse Electric Company's Waste Isolation Division (WID) received recognition for "excellence in underground operations" at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

On September 21, New Mexico State Inspector of Mines Gilbert Miera and the New Mexico Mining Association presented Westinghouse the "Mine Operator of the Year Award." The presentation took place at the state mining association's annual convention in Grants. The "Mine Operator of the Year" award recognizes Westinghouse's close attention to safety in a mining environment. Westinghouse serves as the management and operating contractor for the DOE at the WIPP.

"The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is an exceptional operation," said Miera. "I commend the Westinghouse team for continuing to maintain a safe working environment and for sharing their safety expertise with the mining community."

In addition, Westinghouse received the state's first-ever Exceptional Safety Accomplishment Award at the New Mexico State Mine Inspector's Safety and Health Conference in Socorro September 3. The award is based on a mine's safety record. WID received the award in the category of non-producing mines.

"We have an extremely strong safety culture at the WIPP, as evidenced by the many safety awards we have earned over the years," said WID General Manager Joe Epstein. "Safety is the number one priority in everything we do."

The month of September ended with a successful U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) quarterly inspection of the WIPP. Mine inspectors complimented the surface and underground conditions.

MSHA has reported no significant negative findings at the WIPP since 1993. MSHA enforces federal safety and health regulations for the mining industry. Because of the nature of its underground facilities, the WIPP is considered a "mining operation" and is required by federal and state law to maintain the same safety standards as other mines.

A cornerstone of the DOE's national clean-up strategy, the WIPP is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste generated by defense-related activities.

Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (almost half a mile) underground.

Transuranic waste consists primarily of clothing, tools, rags, and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

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Romanian Nuclear Officials Tour Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

CARLSBAD, N.M., October 6, 1998 - Romanian nuclear research officials visiting the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant WIPP) Wednesday hope to return home with useful information about how to safely dispose of spent nuclear fuel.

The Romanian National Commission for Nuclear Activities Control and the Institute for Nuclear Research are planning for long-term disposal of spent fuel from Romania's Cernovoda reactors.

The four Romanian officials will get a firsthand look at the WIPP, this nation's first licensed geologic repository for transuranic radioactive waste.

"Disposal of nuclear waste is an important issue in Romania," said Mark Matthews, international programs coordinator for the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office. "The WIPP has much to offer the international community in terms of information about the safe geologic disposal of transuranic radioactive waste."

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE's national clean-up strategy, is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste generated by defense activities.

Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (almost one-half mile) underground.

Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

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Business Officers, Educators Credit DOE Program For Increased Sales, Cost Savings, Enhanced Training

CARLSBAD, N.M., August 20, 1998 - Recipients of technology transferred free-of-charge from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office are hailing the program as "very useful" and "the best bargain in the training industry."

"I thought the materials were well put together and that this is a valuable program - and a good use of my tax dollars," said Business Information Systems Manager Julie Simmonds of ST Labs Inc. in Bellevue, Wash.

Since 1995, the Carlsbad Area Office has made more than 7,000 transfers of "soft" technology such as grant-writing guides, environmental safety and health manuals, self-assessment tools and training guides for professional and organizational development.

Recipients who responded to follow-up surveys said that since1995, the program has helped create or save 1,441 jobs, generated $16.5 million in commercial sales, and helped create $7.3 million in cost savings. One of the most popular technologies, "Writing Winning Grant Proposals," assisted participants in preparing grant proposals that generated $115 million in grant awards, survey respondents said.

"The Carlsbad Area Office Technology Transfer Program is a great success story for the Department of Energy," said Michael H. McFadden, Carlsbad Area Office Acting Manager. "The program allows us to return to taxpayers their initial investment into DOE programs."

In 1995, the Carlsbad Area Office transferred technology in disk-form, actually mailing computer disks to applicants. Today, most transfers are accomplished via the Internet.

The Carlsbad Area Office Technology Transfer Program is designed to promote economic development and competitiveness in the private sector, improve the quality of organizational operations, and enhance education and training.

"The transfer program is important to small business owners that do not have the resources to build such programs," said Michael Brown, President and Chief Executive Officer of SkillsNET Corp. in Waxahachie, Texas. "Keep the transfer program available for industry."

The Carlsbad Area Office administers the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) and the National Transuranic Waste Program.

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE's cleanup effort, is designed to permanently dispose of defense-generated transuranic radioactive waste left from the research and production of nuclear weapons. Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (about one-half mile) underground.

Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, including plutonium.

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U.S.-Mexico Hazardous Waste Forum Results in Shared Commitment;Carlsbad Area Office Proposed as Technology Broker for Cleanup Effort

CARLSBAD, N.M., August 17, 1998 - Representatives from the United States and Mexico who turned out for a two-day hazardous waste conference here last week left with a shared commitment to investigate critical environmental issues where U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) environmental technologies can be commercialized. The by-product of this effort will be reduction of health risks in the border region.

In addition, U.S. Rep. Joe Skeen offered his support in designating the DOE’s Carlsbad Area Office as broker for federal technology that can be applied to hazardous waste management and environmental cleanup along the 2,000-mile-long border.

"The Carlsbad Area Office has the skills and the expertise to create, implement and promote both preventative measures and waste cleanup along the border region," said Skeen. "The men and women working here in the Carlsbad Area Office have over 20 years of technical and political experience working with hazardous waste."

Skeen and U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes of El Paso, Texas, were among the dignitaries who spoke to dozens of participants in the U.S.-Mexico Border Region Forum on Application of U.S. Department of Energy Technologies to Hazardous Waste Needs. Approximately 130 scientists, researchers, government and industry officials turned out for the conference. Primary objectives were to identify environmental issues along the border and to investigate the use of existing DOE technologies to solve many of the problems.

Over recent years, population along the border has grown far beyond expectations. In many cases, the infrastructure has not kept pace with the growth and adequately responded to subsequent environmental and health problems. Rep. Reyes indicated strong support and coupled El Paso with Carlsbad in the effort.

"These are very real issues for communities along the border," said Reyes. "We must work together to resolve these issues."

"There are several reasons why the Carlsbad Area Office is best suited for the job of technology broker," said Gary Scott, Deputy Manager of the Carlsbad Area Office. "It is the closest DOE facility to the U.S.-Mexico border, and it already has in place a high level of expertise in hazardous waste management including transportation, characterization and minimization."

In addition to the expertise, Scott said Carlsbad has the facilities to attract industry interested in commercializing the technology.

"The Department of Energy has a $37 million investment in Carlsbad," he said, referring to DOE funding of the Environmental Monitoring and Research Center, the Technology Training Center, the Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Training Center — all products of the Southeastern New Mexico Economic Diversification Project. "We’re looking for a return on that investment," he said.

The Carlsbad Area Office and the City of Carlsbad, which co-sponsored the forum, have also developed wide-ranging support from local communities, academia and officials from Mexico and the four bordering states.

"This is a collaborative effort to do something good for the U.S. and Mexico through our (CAO) office and with our leadership," Scott said.

Mexican officials who attended the forum said they were pleased with the information, the dialogue, and the objectives, expressing an interest in moving forward with projects, implementation plans and targets for success.

"The forum surpasses my expectations," said Dr. Homero Jimenez Dominguez of Mexico City. Dominguez is manager of environmental sciences for the Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Nucleares, a scientific, basic and applied research laboratory similar to Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories. Hazardous waste cleanup and management, he said, are "problems of foremost importance in Mexico."

"We have homework now — a lot of things to do," said Dr. Luis Wolf, director of industrial and special wastes for the Instituto Nacional de Ecologia in San Angel, Mexico. "We have to do it immediately. The border can’t wait. Human health has priority over everything."

With the forum now concluded, the Carlsbad Area Office will develop reports for the border region’s congressional delegation and DOE Headquarters. The report will provide the DOE with information and direction to establish policy to address these issues and initiatives. The offices of New Mexico Senators Jeff Bingaman and Pete Domenici expressed an interest in being briefed on the outcome and successes of the forum.

The Carlsbad Area Office administers the National Transuranic Waste Program and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

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Carlsbad Area Office Submits Comments to NMED On Draft Hazardous Waste Facility Permit for WIPP

CARLSBAD, N.M., August 14, 1998 - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today submitted comments to the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) in response to a draft Hazardous Waste Facility permit for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

The DOE is required to obtain the permit for hazardous waste disposal under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

"Obtaining a RCRA permit for the WIPP is critical for allowing the department to clean-up its defense program facilities across the nation," said Michael McFadden, Acting Manager of the Carlsbad Area Office, which administers the WIPP program. "The DOE's fundamental goal is to ensure that the WIPP is a safe facility that effectively protects human health and the environment. We will continue to work diligently with the NMED to satisfactorily resolve points of disagreement on some of the conditions proposed in the draft permit."

Most of the radioactive waste identified for permanent disposal at the WIPP will contain small amounts of chemically hazardous constituents such as lead and cleaning solvents. A RCRA permit will allow the WIPP to accept this type of "mixed" waste for disposal.

Passed by Congress in 1976 and significantly amended in 1984, RCRA was established to track and regulate chemically hazardous wastes from the time of generation to disposal. The law requires safe and secure procedures for managing hazardous wastes.

The NMED issued a draft permit for the WIPP on May 15. The state agency is accepting comments on the draft permit until August 14. "The Department is confident that the WIPP will safely isolate hazardous wastes to the same degree as it will isolate the radioactive constituents of the waste," said McFadden.

For copies of the Carlsbad Area Office's comments on the draft RCRA Part B permit, call the WIPP Information Center toll-free at 1-800-336-WIPP (1-800-336-9477).

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE's cleanup effort, is designed to permanently dispose of defense-generated transuranic radioactive waste left from research on and production of nuclear weapons. On May 13, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency certified that the WIPP can safely isolate transuranic radioactive waste for the 10,000 year regulatory period.

Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet underground. Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues, and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, including plutonium.

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Carlsbad to Hold Technology Forum To Discuss Potential Applications of Department of Energy Cleanup Technologies

CARLSBAD, N.M., August 7, 1998 - The Department of Energy's Carlsbad Area Office and the City of Carlsbad, N.M., will hold a technology forum in Carlsbad August 12-13 to discuss potential applications of Department of Energy environmental monitoring and cleanup technologies along the United States-Mexico border.

Congressman Joe Skeen of New Mexico, Congressman Silvestre Reyes of Texas and Barbara Greenfield, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 6 Deputy Director for the Compliance Assurance and Enforcement Division, are delivering keynote speeches. EPA’s Region 6 covers Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas.

Participants from the United States and Mexico will take part in panel

discussions and workshops. Speakers and moderators include Carlsbad Mayor Gary Perkowski; Michael McFadden, Acting Manager of DOE's Carlsbad Area Office; Raul Ortega, Mexican Embassy, Washington, D.C.; and Dr. Luis Wolf, Instituto Nacional Ecología.

An objective of the forum is to determine which of DOE's existing monitoring and cleanup technologies could be used to improve the environment along the United States-Mexico border. These technologies were originally developed by the department to clean up the United States' nuclear weapons complex.

DOE-sponsored technologies potentially applicable to border environmental needs include waste minimization and pollution prevention, contaminant detection and mapping methods, use of mobile laboratories, and safe and secure transportation systems.

For example, the department's Chemical Analysis Automation (CAA) system that performs automated laboratory operations, analytical measurements and data interpretation for soil from mobile laboratories could be used to test soil for possible contamination. Other examples include:

Migration barrier covers for mixed waste landfills to contain waste in municipal landfills and uncontrolled dump sites.

Use of advanced grouting materials for on-site stabilization of contaminated soils and placement of impermeable highly durable subsurface barriers for landfills, dump sites and industry waste plume containment.

Use of standardized methods developed by the department's Chlorinated Solvent Substitution Program to reduce waste and prevent pollution where solvents are used for paint stripping, metal stripping and electroplating applications.

The City of Carlsbad and the Department of Energy's Carlsbad Area Office are sponsoring the forum. The Carlsbad Area Office administers the National Transuranic Waste Program and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

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Hershel "Budd" Lucus Named Manager of Underground Operations at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

CARLSBAD, N.M., July 29, 1998 - Hershel L. "Budd" Lucus was recently named Manager of Underground Operations for Westinghouse Electric Company’s Waste Isolation Division at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

Lucus will oversee the day-to-day activities of underground operations, which include seven miles of tunnels and shafts in the WIPP underground. Underground operations consist of such activities as mine excavation, ground control, distribution of underground utilities, and maintenance of ventilation, mechanical and electrical systems.

Lucus first worked at the WIPP in November 1981, when he served as shift superintendent for Cementation West Inc. At that time, WIPP was in the beginning phases of construction. Since then, he has worked as mine manager at a limestone mine in Pennsylvania, and mine superintendent and operations manager at an underground zinc mine in Honduras, Central America.

In 1992, Lucus earned his bachelor’s degree in computer information systems. He applied his computer skills in various positions at the WIPP including technical coordinator, manager of operations technical support and staff business specialist. He was most recently Deputy Manager of Underground Operations.

Lucus and his wife, Geraldine, live in Carlsbad. They have three children, George, Angela and Kristine.

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE’s cleanup effort, is designed to permanently dispose of defense-generated transuranic radioactive waste left from the research and production of nuclear weapons. Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (about one-half mile) underground.

Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues, and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, including plutonium.

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Subhash C. Sethi Named Deputy Manager of Operations at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

CARLSBAD, N.M., July 29, 1998 - Subhash C. Sethi of Carlsbad was recently named Deputy Manager of Operations for Westinghouse Electric Company’s Waste Isolation Division at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

In his new position, Sethi assists Operations Manager David Reber in supervising the day-to-day underground and surface activities at the WIPP site 26 miles east of Carlsbad. Most recently, Sethi was Manager of Underground Operations.

"Subhash is well-qualified for this position," said Joe Epstein, WID General Manager. "We are fortunate to have him on our team."

Sethi has more than 30 years mining experience, with 20 years in supervision and management of both surface and underground mine engineering and mine operations.

He came to the United States from India in 1980 and subsequently received his U.S. citizenship. He began working at the WIPP in 1985, holding positions of increasing responsibility including management of mine engineering, repository engineering and operations readiness. Operations readiness demonstrates the WIPP is ready to begin receiving and disposing of transuranic radioactive waste.

He is a graduate of the Indian School of Mines in Dhanbad, India, where he earned honors degrees in mine engineering and geology. While in India, Sethi also received his Professional First Class Mine Manager Certificate required to serve in mine management positions.

His education in the United States has included numerous graduate level courses, both technical and management, at Southern Illinois University, the University of Colorado, New Mexico State University, and the American Management Association.

He has published and presented technical papers about mining operations at mining and waste management conferences. He is presently a member of the Society of Mining Engineers; American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers; and an executive committee member of the Holmes Safety Association.

Sethi and his wife, Sunena, live in Carlsbad. They have one daughter, Princy, who is a student at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE’s cleanup effort, is designed to permanently dispose of defense-generated transuranic radioactive waste left from the research and production of nuclear weapons. Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (about one-half mile) underground.

Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues, and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, including plutonium.

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 WIPP’s Joe Baca Wins National Competition

CARLSBAD, N.M., July 17, 1998 – Joe Baca, a member of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’s (WIPP) Mine Rescue Blue Team, recently concluded a flawless year in mine rescue contests with a win at the National Mine Rescue Competition in Las Vegas, Nev.

Prior to winning the national award, Baca, of Carlsbad, won every regional competition held this year including locally and in Louisiana and Wyoming. In the national competition, miners traveled from as far away as Kentucky, Ohio, Montana and Louisiana.

"Joe is a very valuable asset to WIPP, a champion," said Joe Epstein, General Manager of the Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division, which manages and operates the WIPP for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carlsbad Area Office. "His exceptional performance is a true measure of the quality of training and the quality of people we have at the WIPP."

Baca’s specialty is the bench contest, designated so because the breathing units that miners are challenged to test and repair are placed on a bench during the troubleshooting and repair process. Each mine rescue team has a bench person, who maintains the rescue equipment. In the bench competition, participants must thoroughly inspect breathing devices that have been purposely tampered with and must correct those defects as quickly as possible.

Each unit, officially termed a "self-contained breathing apparatus," provides the mine rescue member with four hours of oxygen. The units must be tested and, if necessary, repaired before rescue personnel are allowed to enter a dangerous area.

In the national competition, Baca competed against some 35 other miners on the Drager BG174-A breathing apparatus. The bench contest also included a 25-question written test about how the device functions.

This year’s national competition was more of a challenge to bench persons, because they had to find and repair defects. In the past, they were challenged only with finding the defects, which could include holes or faulty parts.

Baca, a hoist electrician at the WIPP, joined Westinghouse Electric Co. in 1991. He’s been in mining since 1975, but received all of his bench training while with Westinghouse. He is a member of one of two teams at the WIPP. Federal law requires each mine to have two mine rescue teams.

To become a bench person, an individual must attend a training course on the breathing apparatus and receive certification from the manufacturer. The bench person also devotes countless hours of his personal time to developing his speed, agility and personal technique in troubleshooting the apparatus. The bench person must test and certify all of the mine’s breathing units every month, as well as before use in an actual emergency.

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE’s cleanup effort, is designed to permanently dispose of defense-generated transuranic radioactive waste left from the research and production of nuclear weapons.

Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (about one-half mile) underground. Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues, and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

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Emergency Response Professionals Converge on Carlsbad For Specialized Radiological Training

CARLSBAD, N.M., July 15, 1998 – More than 18 emergency response professionals from eight states arrived here today to receive specialized radiological training through the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office.

The class, titled "Train-The-Trainer: First Responder Radiological Transportation Emergency Course," provides emergency responders from state and local jurisdictions with the tools needed to teach their colleagues how to protect themselves, the public and the environment in the unlikely event of a transportation accident involving a shipment headed for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

"This course is extremely beneficial to trainers interested in passing on emergency radiological response information to first responders," said Tim Sweeney, Team Leader for the Carlsbad Area Office’s Transportation Program.

The course, offered through the Carlsbad Area Office’s States and Tribal Education Program (STEP), is taught by instructors from Westinghouse Electric Company’s Waste Isolation Division, the management and operating contractor for the DOE at the WIPP.

Students are instructed in material identification, regulations, response procedures, and personal protection.

First responders are individuals who arrive at the scene of an automobile accident first, including law enforcement personnel,

emergency medical technicians, firefighters, tow truck operators, or state and U.S. Department of Transportation representatives.

Since the inception of STEP in 1988, the DOE has trained more than 11,000 emergency response personnel in 11 states. In 1993 and again in 1997, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reviewed and concurred with all STEP courses. STEP courses include Train-The-Trainer: First Responder, First Responder Refresher, Command and Control, Incident Command System, Mitigation, and Medical Management.

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE’s cleanup effort, is designed to permanently dispose of defense-generated transuranic radioactive waste left from the research and production of nuclear weapons.

Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet underground. Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues, and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, including plutonium.

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Department of Energy Releases 1998 Environmental Cleanup Report

Paths to Closure Outlines Approach for World's Largest Environmental Cleanup

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 30, 1998 -- The Department of Energy today released the national Accelerating Cleanup: Paths to Closure report which defines the scope, schedule and cost for cleanup of the nation's nuclear weapons complex. The report, to be updated annually, details 353 cleanup projects at 53 geographic sites in 22 states across the nation.

"Consistent with the Administration's initiative to make government work better, Paths to Closure focuses on finding ways to complete our cleanup work as quickly and efficiently as possible without compromising our commitment to maintain federal and state cleanup compliance standards or the health and safety of our workers. Securing sufficient resources to achieve our commitments will remain a challenge," said Secretary of Energy Federico Peña.

Paths to Closure provides information essential for better planning and management of the world's largest environmental cleanup program and tracks individual DOE sites' efforts to accelerate cleanup. The work scope, cost, and schedule projections in the report also provide critical information on technical activities, budgets, worker health and safety, and risk in order to inform regulators, state and local officials, stakeholders, Tribal Nations, and others of the cleanup's progress.

Today's report follows the release of a discussion draft in June 1997 and the release of a draft report February 1998, each of which solicited feedback from stakeholders, regulators and Tribal Nations. To reflect these views, the department added a chapter (Chapter 6) that summarizes comments received on the draft and describes changes made in this report. A new section (Section 1.3) has also been added to clarify the relationship between Paths to Closure and the department's Office of Environmental Management's decision-making process.

"Meeting the cleanup challenge requires an enduring national commitment. The environmental cleanup of our nation's nuclear weapons complex cannot be accomplished unless sufficient and consistent resources are available over the long term and unless the department continually seeks efficient and cost-effective ways of doing business. As Paths to Closure demonstrates, a long-term stable budget at current levels enables the department to accelerate the cleanup and closure of many of its sites," added Secretary Peña.

The underlying assumptions and basic work scope, cost and schedule data in Paths to Closure are the same as those used to develop the February draft. Given the funding levels assumed in Paths to Closure, the life-cycle cost estimate for the Environmental Management program-wide cleanup is approximately $147 billion through 2070.

Paths to Closure describes an evolving and dynamic cleanup program. The Department of Energy remains committed to maintaining a working partnership with stakeholders, regulators and Tribal Nations as the cleanup program in Paths to Closure evolves.

Copies of today's report can be obtained from the Center for Environmental Management Information at 1-800-736-3282. A full text version of the Paths to Closure report is available on the World Wide Web at http://www.em.doe.gov.

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Dr. Jim Mewhinney Named Assistant Manager for WIPP Office of Development and Research

CARLSBAD, N.M., June 25, 1998 – As the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) nears its long-awaited opening, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office is gearing up for an expanded mission -- that of research and development.

Leading the newly created Office of Development and Research is Dr. Jim Mewhinney, a 10-year veteran of the WIPP project. Prior to his appointment as Assistant Manager for Development and Research, Mewhinney worked as Compliance Team Leader in the Office of Regulatory Compliance and Assurance. As Compliance Team Leader, Mewhinney devoted several years to obtaining the federal certification to open the WIPP. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued that certification last month.

"With Dr. Mewhinney leading our research and development team, Carlsbad is one step closer to becoming an international center for scientific research," said Michael H. McFadden, Acting Manager of the Carlsbad Area Office.

In his new position, Mewhinney is responsible for area program development, technology development and deployment, and research.

Examples of WIPP-related programs Mewhinney is working on include international research programs focused on nuclear waste disposal issues and helping community leaders attract related research programs to Carlsbad.

Technology development and deployment efforts will focus on producing new technology and sharing it with DOE sites around the country. The Carlsbad Area Office took on the mission because of its contact, through the National TRU Waste Program, with all DOE nuclear waste generator sites.

The third area of focus, research, allows Mewhinney and his team to oversee programs dedicated to ensuring the WIPP continues to meet health and environmental regulations.

Mewhinney and his wife, Carla, came to Carlsbad about 10 years ago. Both worked for Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque, he as senior scientist with the center’s Inhalation and Toxicology Research Institute and she as senior technician in aerosol science. During their tenure with Lovelace, the Mewhinneys also contracted with Westinghouse to study salt aerosols in the WIPP underground and exhaust shafts. Carla Mewhinney is now administrative assistant at Sandia National Laboratory’s Carlsbad Operations Office. Sandia is the scientific and technical advisor for the WIPP.

Jim Mewhinney earned his undergraduate degree in biology at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., and went on to earn a doctorate degree in radiation physics at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. He worked for Lovelace Medical Center for 25 years before joining the Carlsbad Area Office.

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE’s cleanup effort, is designed to permanently dispose of defense-generated transuranic radioactive waste left from the research and production of nuclear weapons. Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet underground. Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues, and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, including plutonium.

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Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board Gives WIPP ‘Green Light’ to Operate

CARLSBAD, N.M., June 22, 1998 -- The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) has informed President Clinton and Energy Secretary Federico Peña that the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) can be operated safely.

In a letter dated June 3, DNFSB Chairman John Conway said the Board’s staff conducted reviews of the nuclear safety procedures "for receiving, handling, and emplacing transuranic radioactive waste from defense nuclear facilities."

"Since January, the DNFSB observed an emergency preparedness exercise and the DOE’s Operational Readiness Review (ORR)," said Conway. "The ORR was thorough and professionally executed. Based on reviews by the Board’s staff, the Board believes WIPP can be operated safely."

"This recommendation by the DNFSB further supports the Department’s mission to safely and permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste at the WIPP," said Peña. "By opening and operating the WIPP, the Department will be able to clean up more than 23 temporary storage sites nationwide, removing potential risk to more than 50 million Americans."

The DNFSB is an independent federal agency providing recommendations and advice to the President and the Secretary of Energy regarding public health and safety issues at DOE defense nuclear facilities.

Beginning operations in October 1989, the DNFSB reviews and evaluates the content and implementation of health and safety standards, as well as other requirements, relating to the design, construction, operation, and decommissioning of the Department’s defense nuclear facilities.

"In performing its review, the Board has acted to complement, not duplicate or overlap, the reviews of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in certifying the [WIPP] site as suitable for long-term disposal, or the reviews of the State of New Mexico," said Conway.

"While the WIPP operation is crucial to transuranic cleanup complex wide, it is especially so for the achievement of the Department’s program for early closure of Rocky Flats," he said.

The WIPP, which received final approval from the EPA in May, is a cornerstone of the DOE's national cleanup strategy. It is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste left from the research and production of nuclear weapons. Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet underground. Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, residues, debris and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, including plutonium.

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DOE and New Mexico Environment Department Reach Agreement on WIPP

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., June 19, 1998 -- The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) have reached agreement on the schedule and process to be used in determining the readiness of the first shipment of transuranic waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

The department has worked with NMED over the past week to understand and respond to NMED questions and concerns related to the characterization of non-mixed transuranic waste to WIPP for disposal. The DOE has provided extensive documentation to the NMED including a listing of all documents used in the waste stream certification process and a flow chart of the process used for characterization and certification of the first waste stream to be shipped to WIPP.

In addition, the DOE and NMED have agreed to the following schedule of activities:

  • Two NMED technical staff members began reviewing the waste characterization data on Thursday, June 18, 1998. The NMED staff are working at Los Alamos National Laboratory to expedite their review. NMED expects that the review process will last approximately 10 working days.

  • NMED has agreed that on or before July 10, 1998, it will notify DOE whether it believes the waste stream in question has been adequately characterized as non-mixed waste.

  • DOE agrees that it will not issue a 14-day notice of its intent to ship waste to WIPP prior to its receipt of notification from NMED on July 10, 1998, unless the DOE notice is expressly conditioned on DOE’s receipt of a favorable determination from NMED.

The DOE is also planning to ask the court to move back the proceedings in order to accommodate the agreement with NMED.

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Gary Scott Named Deputy Manager Of DOE’s Carlsbad Area Office

CARLSBAD, N.M., June 2, 1998 -- Gary Scott has been named Deputy Manager of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office (CAO), where he will assist in the overall management of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) and the CAO. He also will support the implementation and management of DOE’s National Transuranic Waste Program, based in Carlsbad.

"Gary brings to this organization a wide array of experience in the nuclear industry," said Michael H. McFadden, Acting Manager of the Carlsbad Area Office. "His knowledge and experience will benefit the WIPP in its role as the nation’s first nuclear waste repository."

Scott holds a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Point Park College in Pittsburgh, Pa., and a master of science degree in energy resources from the University of Pittsburgh School of Engineering. He also is earning a doctorate in political science focusing on international relations and economics from Idaho State University.

He comes to Carlsbad from the DOE’s Idaho Operations Office in Idaho Falls, Idaho. That office manages the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL), one of the 10 major transuranic waste generator sites to ship transuranic waste to the WIPP.

In Idaho, Scott held several DOE management positions in Nuclear Engineering and Reactor Operations. He was also director of the INEEL’s Test Area North, and director of the laboratory’s Radioactive Waste Management Complex.

His experience in the private sector includes a senior design engineer position with Westinghouse Electric Corporation. During his tenure with Westinghouse, Scott worked in the United States, Asia and Europe. His duties included nuclear power plant startups, reactor systems startup and control room simulator design. Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor for the DOE at the WIPP.

As a principal negotiation team member at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria, Scott aided in an international agreement pertaining to the safe handling of radioactive waste. He also worked as senior analyst for the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Nuclear Energy Affairs in Washington, DC.

In 1995, Scott was a legislative fellow to U.S. Rep. Michael Crapo of Idaho and later was science advisor to the Congressional Task Force for Nuclear Clean-up and Tritium Production. He assisted U.S. Rep. Joe Skeen of New Mexico in developing the WIPP Land Withdrawal Act Amendment, a key measure in guiding the eventual opening of the WIPP. After completing his duties on Capitol Hill, Scott was appointed special assistant to Thomas Grumbly, DOE Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management.

Scott is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys fishing, hunting, horseback riding, and camping. He also plays guitar, banjo and is classically trained on the piano.

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE’s cleanup effort, is designed to permanently dispose of defense-generated transuranic radioactive waste. Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet underground. Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, including plutonium.

The project is on schedule to begin disposal operations in June 1998.

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Westinghouse Releases Socioeconomic Study of the WIPP

CARLSBAD, N.M., May 29, 1998 -- Westinghouse Electric Company’s Waste Isolation Division has released an independent study about the socioeconomic impact of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) on Carlsbad.

Westinghouse commissioned the study in response to widespread interest about the WIPP’s influence on different aspects of the community. Until now, only reports of the DOE’s economic impact on the state existed. This study is specific to the WIPP and Carlsbad.

Carlsbad sociologist Terry Marshall began compiling data for "Carlsbad and the WIPP" about a year ago. The 225-page report "makes a concerted effort to look at WIPP in the context of the entire community," Marshall said.

Marshall used "scientifically defensible" procedures, he said, to assess the WIPP’s impact on local citizens, businesses and the economy. The report also describes institutional impacts of the WIPP on local government, schools, colleges and universities, and health care.

"In Carlsbad," Marshall said in his executive summary, "residents know intuitively that WIPP has had significant impact on the community. It clearly has brought jobs and dollars. It has brought an influx of newcomers with new ideas, new demands, new involvement in community activities. Conventional wisdom in Carlsbad credits the WIPP with jump-starting the local economy."

Marshall presented copies of the study last week to Carlsbad Mayor Gary Perkowski, the Eddy County Commission and the Mayor’s WIPP Task Force.

The report is available for reading at the Carlsbad Area Office Reading Room, 4021 National Parks Highway, and at the Municipal Library, 101 S. Halagueno St.

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE’s cleanup effort, is designed to permanently dispose of defense-generated transuranic radioactive waste. Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet underground. Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues, and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, including plutonium.

The project is on schedule to begin disposal operations in June 1998.

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WIPP Waste Disposal Personnel Enhance Qualifications Through Hands-On Training

Carlsbad, N.M., May 29, 1998 - Waste-handling technicians, engineers, and radiological control technicians from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant have completed a training exercise in South Carolina, where they worked with radioactive waste slated for eventual disposal at the WIPP site in southeast New Mexico.

"These activities allow our technicians and engineers to better understand the intricacies of working with radioactive materials," said George Dials, manager of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office. "This is another step in the process of ensuring the waste is handled safely when it arrives at the WIPP site."

Following familiarization with the DOE’s Savannah River Site facility procedures, WIPP technicians were assigned to the Solid Waste Management Facility. There, they retrieved, monitored and vented the waste containers, then moved them to above ground warehouses to await shipment to the WIPP.

During the second week of the two-week exercise, WIPP technicians worked in a plutonium processing facility where they gained experience working in radiation and contamination areas. At the processing facility, technicians sampled radioactive systems, decontaminated equipment and packaged transuranic waste.

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE’s national clean-up strategy, is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic waste generated by defense-related activities. Located 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (almost half a mile) underground. Transuranic waste consists primarily of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

The project is on schedule to begin disposal operations in June 1998.

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DOE Reports High Volume of Visits To WIPP Home Page

CARLSBAD, N.M., May 28, 1998 – Recent announcements regarding the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) resulted in all-time high rates of "hits" to the WIPP Home Page on the World Wide Web of the Internet.

A "hit" is recorded when someone accesses the WIPP Home Page, and whenever the person clicks on the links associated with the home page. The home page, which carries information about the WIPP and the National Transuranic Waste Program, is administered by the DOE’s Carlsbad Area Office.

On the morning of May 13, 1998, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its certification of the WIPP for disposal of radioactive transuranic waste. Immediately following the announcement, the rate of hits on the WIPP Home Page jumped from the typical rate of 150 per hour to 400 per hour. By the time the evening television news programs aired stories about the EPA decision and the DOE’s subsequent announcement that the WIPP will begin disposal operations on June 19, the hit rate went to 618 per hour. The total for the day was 7,500 —three times the normal daily rate of 2,500.

On Thursday, May 14, 1998, hits to the WIPP Home Page averaged 2,000 per hour. The day’s total reached 19,800 — nearly eight times the average daily total.

"These numbers are indicative of the public’s level of interest in the WIPP program," said George Dials, Manager of the Carlsbad Area Office. "In fact, the project is being closely monitored by the international scientific community because of its leading-edge technology and importance to the issue of nuclear waste management."

Using a modem and personal computer, the public can access WIPP and National Transuranic Waste Program information by typing http://www.wipp.ws. Information such as news releases, fact sheets, reports, tour details, project photographs and links to other WIPP-related web sites is added to the home page or updated on a regular basis.

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE’s national clean-up strategy, is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste generated by defense activities. Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (almost one-half mile) underground. Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

The project is on schedule to begin disposal operations on June 17, 1998.

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Carlsbad Company Lands WIPP Backfill Contract

Carlsbad, N.M., May 22, 1998 - Advanced Metal Processing and Supply Inc., of Carlsbad recently was awarded a contract with Westinghouse Electric Company’s Waste Isolation Division to provide backfill for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

Advanced Metal Processing and Supply Inc., owned by Veronica Dorado and Joe Brininstool of Carlsbad, received the contract following a competitive bid process. The contract is for one year, with two one-year renewal options.

The WIPP will use 26-pound and 4,100-pound bags of magnesium oxide to fill in the spaces around the waste containers once the containers are placed in the WIPP underground repository. Magnesium oxide comes in the form of small granules and will absorb any moisture that enters the salt mine, providing greater assurance that radioactive materials will not leave the mine. The smaller sacks will be placed around the containers. The super sacks will be placed on top of the containers. Over time, salt from the mine will "creep" in around the containers and backfill, further encapsulating the waste. Approximately 85,000 tons of magnesium oxide backfill will be used over the 35-year operating life of the WIPP.

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE’s national clean-up strategy, is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic waste generated by defense-related activities. Located 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (almost half a mile) underground.

Transuranic waste consists primarily of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium. The project is on schedule to begin disposal operations in June 1998.

Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carlsbad Area Office at the WIPP.

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WIPP Mine Rescue Teams Dominate Southern Regional Competition

Carlsbad, N.M., May 20, 1998 – Mine Rescue Teams from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant dominated the annual Southern Regional Competition in New Iberia, La., earlier this month, bringing home three first-place awards and two second-place awards.

"These contests are beneficial because they allow our mine rescue teams to demonstrate their superb abilities," said George Dials, manager of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carlsbad Area Office. "These events also validate the quality of our emergency response training."

Teams from Texas, Missouri, New Mexico and Louisiana matched their skills in fire fighting, ventilation, mine exploration and medical response exercises.

The WIPP Silver Team took first place overall in the field contest. The WIPP Blue Team took second place. In the field competition, the presence of methane gas, hydrogen sulfide gas and water in a mine shaft blocked the miners’ exit, presenting a fatal scenario should rescue attempts fail. To save the workers, mine rescue teams needed to know about the behavior of the gases and the effect any water movement would have on the concentration of gases.

Each team is required to have a bench person who maintains and repairs the self-contained breathing apparatus. In the bench competition, each bench person had to find and repair defects in the breathing apparatus. The apparatus provides four hours of protection from carbon monoxide poisoning. Blue Team bench person Joe Baca took first place, while Silver Team bench person Robert "Stick" West took second place.

Blue Team members Mitch Carter, Tony Alston and Gary Kessler won first place in the first-aid competition. The contest consisted of patient assessment, treatment and transport. Each competitor also demonstrated their cardiopulmonary resuscitation expertise on a CPR training mannequin.

Members of the WIPP Silver Team are Robert Rhoades, Ronnie Rhoades, Edgar Keyser, Mike Proctor, Richard West, Bobby Thomas and Jeff Knox. Blue Team members are Gary Kessler, Mitch Carter, Joel Howard, Tony Alston, Lance Turnbow, Buddy Webb, Beverly Watson and Joe Baca. Webb is also trainer and coordinator for the teams.

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE’s national clean-up strategy, is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic waste generated by defense-related activities. Located 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (almost half a mile) underground. Transuranic waste consists primarily of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium. The project is on schedule to begin disposal operations in June 1998.

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Statement of Acting Manager for DOE Environmental Management on the Opening of the WIPP

James Owendoff, Acting Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environmental Management

WASHINGTON, DC, May 13, 1998 -- Today, the Department of Energy is announcing a major milestone in our efforts to clean up the environmental legacy of the Cold War.

Earlier today, Secretary Peña sent a letter to the President of the Senate, Al Gore, and Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich to advise Congress that the Department of Energy is ready to open the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant and to begin accepting defense-related transuranic waste after the 30-day waiting period required under the WIPP Land Withdrawal Act of 1992.

The opening of the WIPP facilitates the accelerated clean up and closure of our former nuclear weapons production sites across the nation. It is an important part of the solution to cleaning up the thousand of tons of nuclear waste produced during the Cold War.

Opening the WIPP also honors the promises we made to the communities where the waste is currently stored. We have binding agreements in place with several states to remove waste by specified and rapidly approaching dates. In order to do that, we need somewhere to permanently dispose of the waste.

The WIPP is the right place for the permanent disposal of transuranic waste. It is an isolated location where salt formations left by a prehistoric ocean eons ago have remained geologically stable for more than 225 million years.

Right now, most of our defense-related transuranic waste is stored in metal drums above ground at 23 sites in 16 states. Temporary storage in drums was never meant to be a permanent solution. These materials must be permanently isolated for centuries into the future.

The current temporary storage means that the radioactive material is sitting in metal drums in proximity to the nearly 53 million people who live within 50 miles of these 23 sites across the country. Permanently disposing of the waste in an ancient salt formation deep in the earth will ensure that it will remain isolated from human contact and will greatly reduce any risk to our citizens.

We are very pleased that today we can tell the communities near Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site in Colorado, Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory in Idaho, Savannah River Site in South Carolina, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, the Hanford Reservation in Washington, Mound Site in Ohio, Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee, the Nevada Test Site in Nevada and other Department of Energy sites that the WIPP is ready to receive their waste.

We can ship safely and securely for everyone involved. Opening the WIPP is essential to ensure that we can meet our obligations to the citizens of Colorado and Idaho, to whom we have made commitments to begin removing transuranic waste by fiscal year 1999.

The EPA certification process also requires the EPA to certify that each waste stream or group of waste streams at each site meet the WIPP waste acceptance criteria prior to shipment to the disposal facility. The Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory has already received EPA certification to ship transuranic waste and will send the first shipment to the WIPP for disposal. Eventually, transuranic waste from 23 locations in 16 states will be shipped to the WIPP.

Initial shipments which will come from Los Alamos to the WIPP will consist of non-mixed transuranic waste that contains no hazardous constituents. Mixed waste, which contains both hazardous and radioactive components, is regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The Energy Department first applied for a RCRA permit in May 1995. The New Mexico Environment Department will release its draft RCRA permit for public comment this Friday, May 15. The majority of the waste destined for the WIPP is mixed transuranic waste, which will require a final RCRA permit to begin shipment and disposal.

Today is the culmination of 24 years of painstaking effort to provide for the disposal of this radioactive waste while placing the highest priority on protection to the environment, safety, and human safety.

With its certification this morning, the EPA determined that the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is in compliance with all applicable federal laws and regulations for the disposal of transuranic radioactive waste. The EPA performed their detailed and meticulous independent review of the Department's 100,000 page application for the site and concluded that the WIPP can and will perform as it was intended.

In addition, the WIPP has undergone thorough investigation and will continue to benefit from oversight by the National Academy of Sciences, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the state of New Mexico and other scientific experts.

We are committed to continuing to work with any and all federal, state, local, tribal, or other interested groups who have concerns about WIPP so that we can open this critical facility after the 30-day waiting period and begin placing the transuranic waste in the permanent isolation it requires.

Opening WIPP is not just a milestone for the Department of Energy. It is a major milestone our nation can take pride in, marking an important stride forward in our nation's efforts to clean up the legacy of the Cold War.

Secretary Peña made the opening of the WIPP a priority for this Department and today he is following through on this commitment.

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Energy Secretary Notifies Congress Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Ready to Open

Action Follows EPA Certification of Facility

WASHINGTON, DC, May 13, 1998 -- Secretary of Energy Federico Peña today notified Congress that the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, N.M. is ready to begin disposal operations. Secretary Peña's action follows the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) issuance of a certification of compliance for the WIPP earlier today. Publication of the EPA certification in the Federal Register, expected by May 20, will initiate a 30-day waiting period before WIPP shipments and disposal operations can begin. The opening date is set tentatively for June 19.

"Officially notifying Congress that the WIPP is ready for operation and has met all prerequisites has been a priority of this administration," said Secretary Peña. "Our action today culminates a 24-year process and marks a historic milestone in our nation's efforts to clean up the environmental legacy of the Cold War. I am proud of this achievement.

"The Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency both agree: the WIPP meets all federal disposal standards for transuranic radioactive waste and is ready to accept this defense-generated waste. The WIPP will be the first geological repository for defense-generated radioactive waste," Peña added. "With the opening of the WIPP, we will be taking a substantial step forward in the environmentally safe cleanup of the nation's former nuclear weapons production sites."

In 1996, the department submitted its application for certification to the Environmental Protection Agency. The Energy Department's application for EPA certification of the WIPP included substantial scientific analyses and documentation. The certification process included extensive public comment. The Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the state of New Mexico, other states, Tribal Nations, communities at the department's waste-generating sites, scientific experts and the department's stakeholders have participated in this nationally important effort to open a safe and secure permanent repository for defense-generated transuranic waste.

The EPA certification process also requires the EPA to certify that each waste stream or group of waste streams at each site meet the WIPP waste acceptance criteria prior to shipment to the disposal facility. The Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory has already received EPA certification to ship transuranic waste and will send the first shipment to the WIPP for disposal. Eventually, transuranic waste from 23 locations in 16 states will be shipped to the WIPP.

Initial shipments which will come from Los Alamos to the WIPP will consist of non-mixed transuranic waste that contains no hazardous constituents. Mixed waste, which contains both hazardous and radioactive components, is regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The Energy Department first applied for a RCRA permit in May 1995. The New Mexico Environment Department will release its draft RCRA permit for public comment this Friday, May 15. The majority of the waste destined for the WIPP is mixed transuranic waste, which will require a final RCRA permit to begin shipment and disposal.

Transuranic waste to be disposed of at the WIPP comes from the department’s nuclear weapons production, dismantlement and research and development activities. This waste consists primarily of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues and other non-liquid disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive isotopes, mostly plutonium.

The WIPP is a deep geologic repository, designed and constructed to provide underground disposal for the department’s defense-generated transuranic waste. Located 2,150 feet below the earth’s surface in an ancient bedded salt formation, the WIPP site occupies 16 square miles in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of the city of Carlsbad.

As early as the 1950s, the National Academy of Sciences recommended disposal of radioactive waste in stable geologic formations, such as deep salt beds. Government scientists searched for an appropriate site during the 1960s, testing the area of southeastern New Mexico in the 1970s. In 1979, Congress authorized the WIPP, and the department constructed the facility during the 1980s.

A 1992 act of Congress transferred ownership of the land surrounding the WIPP to the Department of Energy. The 1992 act also established the Environmental Protection Agency as the regulatory authority that would certify whether the WIPP meets the applicable environmental regulations and standards.

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Carlsbad Area Office Manager Welcomes NMED’s Action In Issuing Draft RCRA Permit For WIPP

CARLSBAD, N.M., May 11, 1998 – George Dials, Manager of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office, today welcomed the announcement by New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) Secretary Mark Weidler and his staff that NMED will be issuing a draft Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permit for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

"I want to thank Governor Johnson and his team for this important action. The RCRA permit is the final piece of the puzzle that will allow the DOE to clean up more than 20 sites nationwide," said Dials. "We look forward to NMED issuing the final permit."

About 60 percent of the defense-generated transuranic radioactive waste identified for permanent disposal at the WIPP contains small amounts of hazardous constituents such as lead and cleaning solvents (referred to as mixed transuranic waste). The RCRA permit is required before the WIPP can accept this type of waste for permanent disposal. The permit application was submitted to NMED on May 26, 1995.

The project is on schedule to begin disposal of non-mixed transuranic waste in June 1998, pending approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Secretary of Energy.

Passed by Congress in 1976 and significantly amended in 1984, the RCRA was established to track and regulate hazardous wastes from the time of generation to disposal. The law requires safe and secure procedures in treating, handling, transporting, storing, and disposing of hazardous wastes.

The NMED will accept public comment on the draft permit for a 90-day period between May 15 and August 14, 1998. If requested, the NMED Secretary can grant a hearing on the RCRA permit. The public will receive a 30-day advance notice if a hearing is scheduled.

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE’s national cleanup strategy, is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste left from the research and production of nuclear weapons. Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet underground. Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, residues, debris and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, including plutonium.

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Artesia and Roswell Community Leaders to Hear WIPP Update

CARLSBAD, N.M., May 11, 1998 – Officials from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office and Westinghouse Electric Company’s Waste Isolation Division (WID) will be in Artesia and Roswell on Wednesday, May 13 to brief local leaders on the status of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

Alison Miner, Carlsbad Area Office Assistant Manager for Program Support, and John Lee, WID Deputy General Manager, will give the Artesia presentation at 7 a.m. at the Artesia Country Club, 26th Street and West Richey Ave. The WIPP presentation will begin at noon at the Roswell Inn, 1815 N. Main St.

The Carlsbad Area Office administers the WIPP and National Transuranic Waste Program. Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor for the DOE at the WIPP.

Community updates such as these are held regularly in an effort to keep local decision makers and business people informed of the latest developments in the WIPP program. The briefings also provide forums for input from communities affected by Carlsbad Area Office programs.

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE’s national clean-up strategy, is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic waste generated by defense-related activities. Located 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (almost half a mile) underground.

Transuranic waste consists primarily of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

The project is on schedule to begin disposal operations in June 1998, pending approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Secretary of Energy.

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Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory Receives Certification to Ship Transuranic Waste

CARLSBAD, N.M., May 8, 1998 - The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office today announced that the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) has met all program requirements to characterize, certify and ship transuranic radioactive waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

The INEEL is the third DOE facility to meet stringent requirements for characterizing and shipping waste to the WIPP. Recently, the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site near Denver, Colo., and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico received certification.

INEEL’s authorization comes after three audits over the past year in which the laboratory’s transuranic waste program was scrutinized by experts from the DOE, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the New Mexico Environment Department, the New Mexico Environmental Evaluation Group and other organizations.

"Our goal throughout the certification process has been to have INEEL, Rocky Flats and Los Alamos National Laboratory authorized to ship waste as soon as the WIPP is open," said George Dials, manager of the DOE's Carlsbad Area Office. "With today's achievement, we remain on track to open the WIPP for disposal operations and begin shipments from all three sites."

INEEL's authority to operate its WIPP transuranic waste program signifies that the facility has all WIPP required procedures and plans in place, and that all personnel have been appropriately trained to implement the waste characterization, quality assurance, TRUPACT-II loading, and shipping procedures.

Approximately 7,800 shipments (roughly 313,000 55-gallon drums) of transuranic waste will travel from the INEEL to the WIPP over the 35-year life of the WIPP project.

A settlement agreement between the state of Idaho, the U.S. Department of the Navy and the U.S. Department of Energy calls for transuranic shipments from the INEEL to begin by April 1999. The facility holds 60 percent of DOE's current volume of stored transuranic waste.

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE’s national clean-up strategy, is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic waste generated by defense-related activities. Located 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (almost half a mile) underground. Transuranic waste consists primarily of clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

The project is on schedule to begin disposal operations in June 1998, pending approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Secretary of Energy.

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International Scientists to Converge on Carlsbad To Discuss Nuclear Waste Disposal Issues

CARLSBAD, N.M., May 4, 1998 – International scientists representing 13 countries will converge on this southeastern New Mexico city May 4-8 to share their views on nuclear waste disposal issues during the International Backfill Workshop.

"Carlsbad is quickly becoming an international center of excellence for radioactive waste disposal research," said George Dials, manager of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office. "Since the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) will be the first operating deep-geologic repository of its kind in the world, this is the perfect setting to discuss the issue of nuclear waste disposal."

The Carlsbad Area Office and the Environment Agency of England and Wales are jointly sponsoring the event, which will include scientists from Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, the Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.

The WIPP will also be the first underground repository to use engineered backfill. Backfill is a material, such as magnesium oxide, placed around containers of radioactive waste to achieve a greater assurance that radionuclides are permanently isolated from the environment.

The Carlsbad Area Office has negotiated an international cooperative agreement that allows countries worldwide to share information on nuclear waste disposal.

"Carlsbad is the ideal place for a workshop of this kind," According to Ned Elkins, WIPP Project Manager for Sandia National Laboratories. "By working with other countries, we are identifying methods in which to operate more efficiently and achieve a greater assurance of isolating radioactive waste from the accessible environment."

The workshop will begin at 11:30 a.m. (MT) Monday, May 4 with a tour of the WIPP site, and a 5:30 p.m. (MT) dinner at the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center.

Activities on May 5-6 will include international waste disposal concepts and various technical sessions, followed by the status of research on the use of backfill materials.

A cornerstone of the DOE’s cleanup effort, the WIPP is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste left from the research and production of nuclear weapons. Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet underground. Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, including plutonium.

Once the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency determines the WIPP meets all applicable federal nuclear waste disposal standards, Energy Secretary Federico Peña will make a decision whether to proceed with transuranic waste disposal operations. Congress must then be notified. Waste operations can begin 30 days after that notification.

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New Mexico Governor Participates in Ceremony To Recognize DOE Milestone of 5000th Technology Transfer

CARLSBAD, N.M., April 20, 1998 -- New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson joined officials from the U.S. Department of Energy's Carlsbad Area Office today to support education and emphasize the importance of government giving something back to the taxpayers.

To make his point, Governor Johnson, from his office computer in Santa Fe, sent an electronic message that transferred technology developed by the Carlsbad Area Office to the Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute (TVI).

The transfer to TVI marks the 5,000th transfer of soft technology from the Carlsbad Area Office to U.S. educational institutions, businesses, government agencies and non-profit organizations at no cost to the recipients. The Carlsbad Area Office administers the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) and the National Transuranic Waste Program.

"I am very pleased to be a part of this transfer of taxpayer-funded technology to a fine educational institution like Albuquerque TVI," said Johnson. "I believe the achievement of this 5000th transfer milestone says a lot about the technological, educational, and human resources in the state of New Mexico. I am particularly pleased to see education, government, and business working hand-in-hand to improve the educational and economic competitiveness of New Mexico in the global economy."

A team of employees from the Department of Energy and the Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division operate the Carlsbad Area Office Technology Transfer Program. The program is designed to promote economic development and competitiveness in the private sector, improve the quality of organizational operations, enhance education and training, and ensure maximum return on taxpayer investment. The technology, which consists mainly of managerial assessment tools, training materials, and technical manuals developed at the Carlsbad Area Office, is available at no cost to organizations for nonexclusive commercialization or internal use.

Transferring technology to institutions like TVI is the main reason this program was developed," said George Dials, manager of the Carlsbad Area Office. This innovation supports the Department's effort to assist in the economic and educational development of communities nationwide.

Kayleigh Carabajal, TVI's Title III activity director, was surfing the Internet when she came across educational materials offered through the Carlsbad Area Office. The materials, titled "Instructor Development Needs Analysis: a paper and pencil tool for systematically determining the development needs of trainers and educators," will be used to evaluate the training needs of TVI's 816 faculty members. The results, according to Carabajal, will be used to plan professional development activities for faculty.

TVI, a community college located in the greater Albuquerque area, offers associate degrees and certificates in business, health, technologies and trade occupations, as well as a two-year liberal arts degree. With an enrollment of about 23,000 students at four campuses, TVI is the second-largest post-secondary institution in New Mexico.

Patti Crockett, Carlsbad Area Office Technology Administrative Specialist, said that the aggressive use of the Internet, coupled with an expanded product line, has enabled the DOE to reach the milestone of 5000 transfers in a little over three years.

"Our technology transfer program has really taken off since we revamped in the program in January 1995," said Crockett. "This is an excellent way to help companies, schools, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations nationwide."

Among the diverse organizations in the United States taking advantage of the program are Gateway 2000, Harvard University, Intel, City of Phoenix, Arizona, Hewlett Packard, NASA, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Colgate-Palmolive, Yale University, and Sandia National Laboratories.

Based on 1997 survey data, the Department estimates that every dollar spent on its technology transfer program has a $122 positive impact in the U.S. economy through commercial sales, cost avoidance, and cost savings. Additionally, the survey estimates that every $357 spent on the program results in one new or saved job for participating organizations.

For more information on the Carlsbad Area Office Technology Transfer Program, visit the program's web site at http://www.t2ed.com. Businesses and organizations may also call Bill Keeley at (505) 234-7594, or reach him through electronic mail at Bill.Keeley@wipp.ws.

A cornerstone of the Department's national clean-up strategy, the WIPP is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste generated by defense-related activities. Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (almost half a mile) underground. Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

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Santa Fe Mayor, DOE, State Find Alternative to Waste Shipment Plan

CARLSBAD, N.M., April 7, 1998 -- Officials from the city of Santa Fe, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the state Highway and Transportation Department have developed a plan to avoid shipping defense-generated transuranic waste destined for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) via St. Francis Drive in Santa Fe.

The plan resulted from a recent meeting among Santa Fe Mayor Larry Delgado, New Mexico Highway and Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn, DOE Carlsbad Area Office Manager George Dials and other officials. The group reached an agreement that outlines an alternative to temporarily shipping Los Alamos National Laboratory waste through Santa Fe.

"I am pleased we were able to develop this agreement," said Energy Secretary Federico Peña. "The Department of Energy wants to be a good neighbor. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Santa Fe and the state of New Mexico to help resolve the critical challenge of cleaning up defense-related radioactive waste throughout the weapons complex."

Under the plan, WIPP trucks will use Camino La Tierra from U.S. 84/285 south to the Santa Fe Relief Route frontage road, which is currently under construction. The Transportation Department will advance construction on the frontage road to make it usable by May 31. The southernmost portion of the relief route is ready for use. By July, the construction of two lanes of the entire four-lane route will be completed.

"It’s a good agreement that acknowledges the safety concerns of the citizens of Santa Fe. I think it will work," said Santa Fe Mayor Larry Delgado. "The real clincher is the Transportation Department accepting the challenge to make it work."

Shipments from Los Alamos will still conform to an earlier resolution between the City of Santa Fe, the state and the department. That agreement limits the hours and frequency of transport, and requires an escort until the four-lane relief route is completed.

"I’ve heard from many Santa Feans who had safety concerns about using St. Francis Drive as a temporary route," said Congressman Bill Redmond, whose district includes the Santa Fe and Los Alamos area. "This is a good alternative, and I’m pleased we were able to reach an agreeable solution," he said.

Also lending support to the effort was Sen. Pete Domenici , who commended the parties involved for taking a proactive approach.

"I am pleased to have been able to participate in developing this agreement over the past six weeks," Domenici said. "It is a constructive, logical solution that rightly recognizes the concerns of many Santa Feans. The advanced funding and construction work on the relief route should help alleviate some of these concerns."

The Carlsbad Area Office is on schedule to begin shipping transuranic waste from Los Alamos to the WIPP on or about June 1. Once the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency determines that the WIPP meets all applicable federal nuclear waste disposal standards, the Energy Secretary will make a decision whether to proceed with transuranic waste disposal operations. Congress must then be notified. Waste operations can begin 30 days after that notification.

A cornerstone of the DOE’s national clean-up strategy, the WIPP is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic waste generated by defense-related activities. Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated 2,150 feet underground in an ancient, stable salt formation. Transuranic waste consists of tools, gloves, clothing and other such items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

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Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site Authorized to Implement WIPP Program Requirements

CARLSBAD, N.M., April 7, 1998 – The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office today announced that the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site (RFETS) near Denver, Colorado, has met all program requirements to characterize, certify and, ultimately, ship transuranic radioactive waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

Each DOE facility generating and/or temporarily storing transuranic waste must meet stringent quality assurance requirements for characterizing and shipping waste to the WIPP. RFETS’s authorization was preceded by three (3) audits over the past two years in which the site’s program was scrutinized by experts representing the DOE, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, the New Mexico Environment Department, the New Mexico Environmental Evaluation Group and other organizations.

"The authorization of the Rocky Flats program satisfies a key milestone on the WIPP Disposal Decision Plan – the DOE’s schedule of work that targets May 1998 as the opening date for the project," said George Dials, Manager of the Carlsbad Area Office. "Rocky Flats is the second site to meet this goal — Los Alamos National Laboratory did so in September 1997."

The Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) is the next facility being evaluated for its readiness to characterize, certify and ship waste to the WIPP. The current schedule calls for this site to achieve authorization in April 1998.

INEEL, Los Alamos, and Rocky Flats are the first three DOE facilities that will ship transuranic waste to the WIPP, once it meets all applicable regulatory requirements to begin disposal operations.

RFETS’s authority to operate its WIPP transuranic waste program signifies that the facility has all required procedures and plans in place, and that all personnel have been appropriately trained to implement the waste characterization, TRUPACT II loading, and shipping procedures. Approximately 1,370 shipments (roughly 36,000 55-gallon drums) of contact-handled transuranic waste will travel from RFETS to the WIPP over the life of the project.

A cornerstone of the DOE’s national clean-up strategy, the WIPP is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic waste generated by defense-related activities. Located 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (almost half a mile) underground. Transuranic waste consists primarily of clothing, tools, rags, and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

The project is on schedule to begin disposal operations in May 1998, pending approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Secretary of Energy.

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Carlsbad Area Office Notifies Energy Secretary WIPP Operational Readiness Review is Complete

CARLSBAD, N.M., April 1, 1998 – The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office has informed Secretary of Energy Federico Peña that the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is operationally ready to begin disposal of defense-generated transuranic radioactive waste as early as May 29.

Disposal operations can begin only after final certification is received from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the green light is given by Secretary Peña, and notification is made to Congress.

The Declaration of Readiness announcement, made by Carlsbad Area Office Manager George Dials, is required by law under the conditions of the 1992 WIPP Land Withdrawal Act, as amended in 1996. The declaration is one of several activities required before disposal operations can begin at the WIPP.

"I am declaring that the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is operationally ready to begin its mission to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste," said Dials. "In less than 60 days, we will be ready to take a critical first step in solving the defense nuclear waste disposal problem."

The readiness declaration comes on the heels of an intense Operational Readiness Review of the WIPP by 15 officials from other DOE sites and private companies. The review was a systematic inquiry into the ability of Westinghouse Electric Company’s Waste Isolation Division to safely start transuranic waste disposal operations.

In comments provided to the Carlsbad Area Office, the Operational Readiness Review team stated that the WIPP staff demonstrated the knowledge, attitude, and inquisitiveness required to ensure disciplined safe operations. The condition and readiness of the plant equipment and systems were demonstrated to be reliable. All required programs were found to be in place and effective.

The team identified the following strengths:

  • A strong safety culture is in place.

  • The management team is proactive and exhibits strong leadership qualities.

  • Westinghouse demonstrated a strong, disciplined waste handling operation.

"Six minor pre-start findings were identified in the review process. All have been corrected, closed and verified," said Dials.

Once the EPA determines that the WIPP meets all applicable federal nuclear waste disposal standards, Secretary Peña will make a decision whether to proceed with transuranic waste disposal operations. Congress must then be notified. Waste operations can begin 30 days after that notification.

Initial waste shipments will come from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the Rocky Flats Environmental and Technology Site near Denver, Colorado, and the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory near Idaho Falls. There are more than 20 temporary storage sites for defense-generated transuranic waste nationwide.

Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor for the DOE at the WIPP.

 The WIPP is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste left from the research and production of nuclear weapons. Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet underground. Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, including plutonium.

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DOE Completes WIPP Operational Readiness Review

CARLSBAD, N.M., March 23, 1998 - The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office has successfully completed another key step toward opening the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) this spring for disposal operations.

The DOE conducted its operational readiness review at the WIPP March 2-10. A team of 15 experts from DOE sites other than the Carlsbad Area Office and private companies conducted an in-depth review that evaluated the WIPP’s people, equipment and procedures to ensure everything and everyone can meet the requirements to operate the WIPP for the permanent disposal of transuranic radioactive waste.

"The review team took a comprehensive look at the safety of our operations, plant and equipment readiness, and the readiness of personnel to fulfill their roles and responsibilities," said George Dials, Manager of the Carlsbad Area Office. "The team determined that the WIPP has the required programs in place to conduct disposal operations."

The review team also examined the results of the recent operational readiness review conducted by Westinghouse Electric Company’s Waste Isolation Division (WID), the management and operating contractor for the DOE at the WIPP. The DOE review validated the WID’s determination that WIPP personnel can safely operate the plant for waste disposal.

"The DOE team identified some needed improvements in our procedures and training documentation. We are now implementing corrective action on these items, and expect to be in a position, by the end of March, to declare readiness to begin disposal operations," Dials said.

The WIPP is scheduled to begin disposal operations in May, pending approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Secretary of Energy.

A cornerstone of the DOE’s national clean-up strategy, the WIPP is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste generated by defense-related activities. Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (almost half a mile) underground. Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

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Westinghouse Awards Contract To New Mexico Computer Firm

CARLSBAD, N.M., March 23, 1998 - Westinghouse Electric Company’s Waste Isolation Division (WID) today announced the award of a subcontract for computer support services to P.C. Support, Inc., of Albuquerque.

The 14-year-old firm is an employee-owned company founded by its present chief executive officer, Jennifer Norrid. P.C. Support will provide six personnel at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) to manage and operate WID’s Computer Help Desk and Desk Top Computer Maintenance Services. The subcontract begins April 1, 1998, and extends for one year with options for four one-year renewals.

This subcontract is another example of Westinghouse’s efforts to include the private sector in government-funded projects. Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carlsbad Area Office at the WIPP. The WID awarded P.C. Support the contract following a competitive bid process.

The WIPP is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste left from the research and production of nuclear weapons. Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (almost one-half mile) underground. Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

The project is on schedule to begin disposal operations in May 1998, pending approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Secretary of Energy.

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WIPP Ambulance First to Earn State Registration

CARLSBAD, N.M., March 13, 1998 - Officials from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carlsbad Area Office and the New Mexico State Corporation Commission joined today to celebrate registration of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) medical rescue vehicle under a new commission rule.

The WIPP Medical-Rescue Unit is the first to register under the State Corporation Commission’s Ambulance and Medical-Rescue Services rule, which provides guidelines for the operation of state and federal medical-rescue vehicles.

To commemorate the event, Commission Chairman Jerome Block, and Commissioners Bill Pope and Eric Serna attended an event at the WIPP. There, they met with officials from the DOE’s Carlsbad Area Office and Westinghouse Electric Company’s Waste Isolation Division.

Also in attendance were Vince Martinez, Director of the State Corporation Commission’s Transportation Department, and Brian Hecht, Eastern New Mexico Emergency Medical Services Executive Director.

The WIPP unit has historically responded to emergencies in the vicinity of the project site. The new state rule simply provides a classification for such emergency carriers as well as operational guidelines.

According to the state rule, registered medical-rescue vehicles may transport members of the public under two distinct situations: life- or limb-saving necessity; or when there is no licensed ambulance service covering the area or within a reasonable response time.

Through Memorandums of Understanding, the WIPP Medical Rescue Unit assists the Hobbs and Carlsbad Fire Departments in emergencies such as mine, oil field or automobile accidents near the WIPP site.

The WIPP is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste left from the research and production of nuclear weapons. Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (almost one-half mile) underground. Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

The project is on schedule to begin disposal operations in May 1998, pending approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Secretary of Energy.

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Westinghouse Employees Achieve One Million Safe Work Hours

CARLSBAD, N.M., March 13, 1998 - Employees of Westinghouse Electric Company’s Waste Isolation Division (WID) recently logged another entry into the company’s outstanding work safety record.

On January16, the division completed one million work hours without a lost-time injury, a period which extended from mid-April 1997 to January 16, 1998. Federal law requires employers to record information about every occupational death, every non-fatal occupational illness, and non-fatal occupational injuries.

"The safety and health of our workers — both federal and contractor employees — is a priority for Secretary PeZa and a cornerstone to our cleanup efforts nationwide. I congratulate Westinghouse employees on their achievement of one million safe work hours," said James Owendoff, Acting Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management.

Westinghouse WID is the management and operating contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carlsbad Area Office at the WIPP.

"Safety is of utmost importance to this operation," said Joe Epstein, WID general manager. "Westinghouse and its employees are committed to safety, and our record reflects that commitment."

National safety organizations have recognized WID employees for their safety awareness since the early 1990s. On February 6, 1992, WID employees completed three million safe work hours. In 1992 and 1993, WID earned the National Safety Council’s Honor of Reduction Award for the highest reduction of injury illness rate for similar businesses.

The Council also awarded WID the Honor of Merit Award in 1995 for its continued excellence in safety. In addition, WID has received 10 consecutive New Mexico Mine Operator of the Year awards.

The WIPP is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste left from the research and production of nuclear weapons. Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet underground. Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

The project is on schedule to begin disposal operations in May 1998, pending approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Secretary of Energy.

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WIPP Employees Earn Radiological Control Qualification

CARLSBAD, N.M., March 5, 1998 - Four employees of Westinghouse Electric Company’s Waste Isolation Division recently earned qualification as radiological control technicians.

Donna Schutt and Cindy May, both of Carlsbad; John Guy, Hobbs; and Glen Galloway, Artesia, all members of the Westinghouse Environment, Safety and Health Department’s Operational Health Physics team, successfully completed a comprehensive training schedule qualifying them to oversee radiological work at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy at the WIPP.

These four join Adan PeZa and Carolyn Littrell, both of Carlsbad, as qualified radiological control technicians. The Operational Health Physics team now staffs seven qualified radiological control technicians including team leader Casey Gadbury. Russell Whiteley, an experimental technician in the radiochemistry lab, is also qualified, giving the WIPP a total of eight trained technicians.

The technicians are responsible for monitoring for radiation and protecting workers in radiological areas. Most of their work will be in the WIPP’s waste handling building, but technicians are also responsible for all other areas on site.

"We are all very proud of these four individuals," said Kevin Donovan, manager of the Environment, Safety and Health Department. "Completing the demanding qualification courses is quite an accomplishment and is a real testament to their dedication and professionalism."

The nine-month training program included 30 instructional courses as well as underground, hazardous waste, and electrical safety training. The test phase consisted of written and oral exams presented by supervisors, who require technicians pass by 80 percent.

The WIPP is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste left from the research and production of nuclear weapons. Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet underground. Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium. The project is on schedule to begin disposal operations in May 1998, pending approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Westinghouse Offers $6,400 in College Scholarships to Eddy County Students

CARLSBAD, N.M., March 2, 1998 -- Westinghouse Electric Company announced today that almost $6,500 in college scholarships will be awarded to Eddy County students for the 1998-1999 school year. The deadline to apply is April 4.

Two $2,500 scholarships will be honored at New Mexico State University (NMSU) in Las Cruces, and at the College of the Southwest (CSW) in Carlsbad. High school seniors applying for the NMSU-Las Cruces scholarship should be interested in careers related to science, mathematics or engineering. High school and college students are encouraged to apply for the CSW-Carlsbad scholarship, which can be used for any discipline.

A newly-created scholarship worth $1,400 a year will be offered to Eddy County students entering the two-year engineering program at NMSU-Carlsbad.

To qualify for any of the scholarships, students must have a minimum grade point average of 3.0, and be actively involved in their communities. Financial need of applicants will also be considered.

For more information on the NMSU-Las Cruces or NMSU-Carlsbad scholarships, high school seniors should contact their counselors. Students wishing to apply for the CSW-Carlsbad scholarship should call Mel Vuk at 887-3500.

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WIPP Elevator Back in Service Following Temporary Shutdown

CARLSBAD, N.M., February 28, 1998 – The main elevator at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is back in service today following a temporary shutdown on Friday, February 27.

Westinghouse Electric Company personnel at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) facility stopped the elevator (called a hoist in mining terminology) when its load shifted during transit from the underground. Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor for the DOE at the WIPP.

At approximately 11:00 a.m. Friday, the elevator, loaded with a cart carrying six drums of water, was stopped during its trip to the surface following observance of abnormal cable movement and small pieces of salt rock falling in the shaft. The elevator had traveled approximately 500 feet toward the surface when it was stopped by the hoist operator.

There were no personnel on the elevator or near the underground station at the time. Consequently, there was no risk of injury to any personnel.

Inspections of the elevator, its associated systems, and the shaft were completed and there is no damage to the hoisting system. The shaft inspection revealed only minor damage to some of the wire mesh that is attached to the lower portion of the shaft wall.

As the elevator progressed toward the surface, the cart moved on its track — causing the load to shift. The cart protruded beyond the floor of the elevator and scraped the shaft wall, which caused small pieces of salt rock to fall and the hoist cable to vibrate. The surface hoist operator stopped the elevator when he noticed the unusual cable movement.

The conveyance or pallet system that will be used to transport transuranic waste on the lower deck of the elevator is different than the system used to hold drums of water and other items routinely carried to the surface during normal operations.

Again, no personnel were in danger. Underground workers finished their normal shift and returned to the surface on one of the plant’s two other elevators.

The root cause of the incident is being determined and corrective actions will be implemented.

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Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division Informs DOE of Readiness at WIPP

CARLSBAD, NM, February 26, 1998 -- Westinghouse Electric Company’s Waste Isolation Division has declared its readiness to proceed to the next key step toward opening the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) for disposal operations.

Westinghouse, the management and operating contractor at the WIPP for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office, informed the DOE in a February 23 letter that it has completed its contractor operational readiness review and has taken all actions necessary to proceed with the DOE operational readiness review. The DOE operational readiness review will occur the week of March 2.

The operational readiness reviews test the facility’s people, equipment and procedures to ensure everything and everyone can meet the requirements to operate the WIPP for the permanent disposal of transuranic waste. The WIPP is scheduled to begin disposal operations in May, pending approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"We actually began the review process in July 1996 with a comprehensive look at our entire system of line functions," said Joe Epstein, General Manager of the Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division. "The operational readiness review verified our ability to safely dispose of transuranic waste in accordance with all applicable regulations and procedures."

The Westinghouse declaration of readiness also documents actions to resolve issues related to operating procedures, training and record keeping that were noted during the contractor operational readiness review. Corrective actions to resolve these issues have been completed.

The cornerstone of the DOE’s national clean-up strategy, the WIPP is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste generated by defense-related activities. Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (almost half a mile) underground. Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

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WIPP Presentation Scheduled For Wyoming Legislators

CARLSBAD, N.M., February 20, 1998 – Wyoming legislators will have an opportunity to hear the latest information about the U.S. Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) during a breakfast meeting February 25 in Cheyenne.

State Representative Tony Rose of Rawlins is hosting the event, which is scheduled for 6 a.m. at the Best Western Hitching Post Inn, 1700 W. Lincolnway. The presentation will include an update on the status of the WIPP and will afford lawmakers the opportunity to ask questions about the project.

The WIPP, administered by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carlsbad Area Office, is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic waste generated by defense-related activities. It is located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad. Project facilities include disposal rooms excavated 2,150 feet (about a half mile) underground in an ancient, stable salt formation. Transuranic waste consists of tools, gloves, clothing and other such items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

Approximately 13,800 shipments of transuranic waste from the Hanford Reservation in Washington and the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory will pass through Wyoming via Interstate 80 en route to the WIPP. The project is scheduled to begin accepting waste this spring, pending final certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Shipments through Wyoming are scheduled to continue through the year 2033.

In preparation for the shipments, the U.S. Department of Energy has provided WIPP-specific emergency response training to some 1,400 first responders in Wyoming. Additional training is planned in April 1998.

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WIPP Personnel Plan Activities For National Engineers Week

CARLSBAD, N.M., February 20, 1998 -- Engineers associated with the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) are on a mission this week -- to encourage students to pursue careers in engineering, mathematics, and science.

The information blitz is in observance of National Engineers Week, scheduled for February 22-28. Throughout the week, 18 engineers associated with the DOE, Westinghouse Electric Company’s Waste Isolation Division, and Sandia National Laboratories will volunteer their time to make presentations at 13 area schools to inform and educate young people about the engineering profession.

"Scientists and engineers are critical to the success of the WIPP project," said George Dials, Manager of the DOE’s Carlsbad Area Office. "It is our hope that National Engineers Week activities will help students and the public learn how these disciplines benefit society."

The public is invited to attend a presentation by Dials titled "Turning Ideas Into Reality - Opening WIPP in 1998." The talk, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 24 at the Riverside Country Club, will reveal the importance of engineering and its impact on the WIPP project.

A coalition of engineering societies, government agencies, and major corporations, representing thousands of engineers, sponsors National Engineers Week. Westinghouse is one of ten 1998 corporate affiliate sponsors.

National Engineers Week, founded in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers, is held annually around the birthday of President George Washington. A military engineer and land surveyor, Washington is commonly remembered as the nation's first engineer.

Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor for the Carlsbad Area Office, which administers the WIPP and National Transuranic programs. Sandia serves as the scientific advisor for the WIPP project.

A cornerstone of the DOE’s national clean-up strategy, the WIPP is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste generated by defense-related activities. Transuranic waste consists primarily of clothing, tools, rags, and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium. Plant facilities include excavated rooms 2,150 feet (almost half a mile) below the earth’s surface in 250-million-year-old bedded salt rock.

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WIPP Presentation Scheduled For Idaho Legislators

CARLSBAD, N.M., February 20, 1998 – Idaho legislators will have an opportunity to hear the latest information about the U.S. Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) during a breakfast meeting February 26 in Boise.

State Representative Michael K. Simpson of Blackfoot is hosting the event, which is scheduled for 7 a.m. at the Boise Centre on the Grove, 805 W. Front Street. The presentation will include an update on the status of the WIPP and will afford lawmakers the opportunity to ask questions about the project.

The WIPP, administered by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carlsbad Area Office, is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic waste generated by defense-related activities. It is located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad. Project facilities include disposal rooms excavated 2,150 feet (about a half mile) underground in an ancient, stable salt formation. Transuranic waste consists of tools, gloves, clothing and other such items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

The Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) will be one of the first sites to ship transuranic waste to the WIPP. Approximately 13,800 shipments of transuranic waste from INEEL and the Hanford Reservation in Washington will pass through Idaho via Interstates 15 and 84 en route to the WIPP. The project is scheduled to begin accepting waste this spring, pending final certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Shipments through Idaho are scheduled to continue through the year 2033.

In preparation for the shipments, the U.S. Department of Energy has provided WIPP-specific emergency response training to some 480 first responders in Idaho. A WIPP transportation exercise is scheduled for April 1998 in Malad.

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David P. Reber Named Manager of Operations At Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

CARLSBAD, N.M., February 17, 1998 – David P. Reber has been named manager of Operations for the Westinghouse Electric Company’s Waste Isolation Division (WID) at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

Joe Epstein, WID General Manager, said in announcing the appointment that Reber will manage all day-to-day activities at the WIPP including underground and surface operations. Most recently, Reber was in charge of WID Special Projects, which included economic development, technology transfer, and facility startup at the WIPP.

"Dave did a fantastic job in preparing us for the Contractor Operational Readiness Review," said Epstein. "He carries a broad range of nuclear expertise. We are fortunate to have such a qualified person in this important position."

Reber, who received a degree in mathematics from the University of California at Irvine, replaces Chuck Conway. Conway recently accepted another position within Westinghouse’s Government Technical Services Division in Albuquerque. Reber has 12 years of management experience in nuclear power generation, facility startup, and waste management.

Before transferring to the WID in October 1996, Reber was manager of the West Tank Farms with Westinghouse at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford Reservation in Washington State.

Reber and his wife, Pattie, live in Carlsbad. They have four children.

A cornerstone of the DOE’s environmental clean-up strategy, the WIPP is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste left from the research and production of nuclear weapons. Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (almost half a mile) underground. Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, and other disposable items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

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WIPP and Other Carlsbad Organizations Win 1997 New Mexico Quality Awards

CARLSBAD, N.M., February 4, 1998 – The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office and Westinghouse Electric Company’s Waste Isolation Division lead a group of seven Carlsbad organizations honored today as recipients of 1997 New Mexico Quality Awards.

Quality New Mexico today announced that the DOE’s Carlsbad Area Office and the Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division are each winners of the Roadrunner Award, the second-highest honor bestowed by the organization. The Carlsbad Area Office administers the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) and National Transuranic Waste program, while Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor for the DOE at the WIPP.

"This is more great news for the DOE, Westinghouse and the WIPP," said George Dials, Manager of the Carlsbad Area Office. "These awards further demonstrate our readiness to open and operate the WIPP this May for the safe, environmentally sound disposal of transuranic waste. It’s the right thing to do."

This marks the second year that the Carlsbad Area Office has won a Quality New Mexico Award. The 1997 Roadrunner Award is one level up from the PiZon Award won by the Carlsbad Area Office in 1996. The Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division has won three consecutive Roadrunner Awards.

Five other Carlsbad organizations received PiZon Awards for 1997. The Carlsbad Mental Health Association won its second consecutive PiZon Award, while the Carlsbad City Library, the Carlsbad Fire Department, Day and Zimmermann, LLC (a Westinghouse subcontractor on the WIPP Project), and Western Commerce Bank each received their first PiZon Award.

"This tremendous showing by Carlsbad in the 1997 New Mexico Quality Awards Program speaks well for the efforts of the Quality Carlsbad organization," said Joe Epstein, general manager of the Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division. "Carlsbad is leading the charge to instill the quality culture in southeastern New Mexico."

The New Mexico Quality Awards, administered by the Quality New Mexico organization, recognize outstanding performance in the areas of commitment, progress and excellence. The awards assessment process and criteria are based on the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

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Department of Energy Issues Decisions on Transuranic Waste; Support Opening of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

CARLSBAD, NEW MEXICO - January 22, 1998 - The Department of Energy (DOE) today announced major decisions on the treatment, storage and disposal of its transuranic waste, a type of radioactive waste generated as a result of defense operations. The Department of Energy will dispose of its defense-generated transuranic waste at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) after it is treated as needed and packaged to meet WIPP's waste acceptance criteria.

The department also decided that its sites with transuranic waste will prepare this waste on-site and store the waste until disposal at WIPP, except the Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico. Sandia will ship its transuranic waste to Los Alamos National Laboratory for treatment and interim storage.

These decisions are contained in two Records of Decision, The Record of Decision for the Department of Energy's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Disposal Phase (WIPP ROD) and The Record of Decision for the Department of Energy's Waste Management Program: Treatment and Storage of Transuranic Waste (WM PEIS ROD).

Secretary of Energy Federico Pena said, "These decisions are an important step toward achieving one of the department's main objectives -- the safe, efficient environmental cleanup of Department of Energy sites nationwide. We reached these decisions after extensive environmental analysis and public comment."

The WIPP is a geologic repository, constructed to provide underground disposal for the department’s defense-generated transuranic wastes. Located 2,150 feet below the earth’s surface in bedded salt, the WIPP site occupies 16 square miles in southeastern New Mexico, approximately 25 miles from Carlsbad. The transuranic waste to be disposed of at WIPP comes from the department’s nuclear weapons production and dismantlement, and research and development activities. Examples of transuranic waste ranges from unprocessed laboratory trash (such as tools, paper, glassware, or gloves) to solidified waste water treatment sludge contaminated with plutonium and other radioactive elements.

In the WIPP ROD, the Department of Energy decided to dispose of its defense-generated transuranic waste at WIPP after it is treated as needed and packaged to meet waste acceptance criteria for the disposal facility. Transportation of the waste to WIPP will initially be by truck, although the department may use commercial rail transportation in the future. The department is working toward opening WIPP in May 1998. DOE anticipates that its sites in Colorado, Idaho, and New Mexico will be the first to begin shipping their transuranic waste to WIPP.

In the WM PEIS ROD, the department decided that prior to disposal, its sites with transuranic waste will prepare its waste on-site and store the waste where it was prepared until it is shipped to WIPP, except the Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico. Sandia will transfer its transuranic waste to the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Los Alamos will have facilities, not available or anticipated at SNL-NM, to prepare and store this waste prior to disposal at WIPP.

This record of decision affects waste at Department of Energy sites in 15 states. In the future, the department may decide to ship transuranic waste to its sites in Idaho, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington from sites where the department concludes that it would be impractical to prepare those wastes for disposal. Any future decisions to transfer transuranic waste are contingent upon review under the National Environmental Policy Act, completion of regulatory review, and consistency with agreements between the department and various states concerning waste management at the department’s sites.

Today's decisions are based upon two environmental impact statements completed by the department last year. These studies evaluated the environmental effects and potential cost of nationwide alternatives for managing of approximately 175,000 cubic meters of transuranic waste. Both studies included extensive public input through comments and meetings.

The September 1997 Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Disposal Phase Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (WIPP SEIS-II) evaluated alternatives for disposal, level of treatment, and transportation of transuranic waste. This study recommended that WIPP be selected as the Nation's permanent repository for defense-generated radioactive transuranic waste.

The May 1997 Waste Management Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (WM PEIS) analyzed locations within DOE for waste facilities for five types of radioactive and hazardous wastes. The Record of Decision for the treatment and storage of transuranic waste is the first of several decisions to be issued based on this study. Decisions on where the department will locate waste management operations will be forthcoming for the other waste types beginning later this year.

Copies of the department’s decisions can be obtained from the Center for Environmental Management Information, P.O. Box 23769, Washington, D.C. 20026-3769, or by calling toll-free 1-800/736-3282 (in D.C.: 202/863-5084). The decisions are also posted on the Internet, at address http://www.em.doe.gov/em30/.

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Colorado, New Mexico Congressmen Join Department of Energy Officials To Dedicate WIPP Disposal Room

CARLSBAD, N.M. – January 12, 1998 - U.S. Representative Dan Schaefer of Colorado and U.S. Representative Joe Skeen of New Mexico joined U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) officials today in dedicating the "Colorado Room" at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

Disposal Room 5 of Panel 1 in the WIPP underground will be filled with transuranic waste from the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site near Denver, as well as other DOE facilities.

"The state of Colorado and the nation have long awaited the day we can finally dispose of this waste and eliminate the risk its temporary storage now poses to millions of Americans," Schaefer said at today’s ceremony. "This event is an important symbol of years of cooperation and dedication. It also signals the beginning of the real cleanup of Rocky Flats."

The purpose of the room dedication is two-fold. First, it stresses the importance of moving transuranic waste from temporary storage at Rocky Flats for permanent disposal at the WIPP. Secondly, it symbolizes a bond between Colorado, New Mexico, the DOE, and affected stakeholders to jointly address the issue of nuclear waste cleanup.

"Colorado is an important player in our effort to solve a national problem," said George Dials, manager of the DOE’s Carlsbad Area Office. "Cooperative relationships such as the one we celebrate today result in sound solutions such as the one provided by the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant."

A cornerstone of the DOE’s clean-up strategy, the WIPP is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic waste generated by defense-related activities. Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated 2,150 feet (almost half a mile) underground in an ancient, stable salt formation. The WIPP is scheduled to open in the spring of 1998, pending final certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"Throughout my long tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives, I have watched and helped the WIPP grow from idea to reality," said Skeen. "Today, I thank the people of Colorado, New Mexico and the nation for taking a proactive role in solving this serious national problem."

The Colorado Room is the third waste disposal room to be dedicated to a state involved in the DOE’s cleanup effort. In addition to the Colorado Room, the DOE has dedicated the New Mexico Room and the Idaho Room. The idea came about in 1996, when several members of Idaho’s congressional delegation and high-ranking Idaho state officials toured the WIPP to see where the DOE planned to dispose of waste from the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL).

Rocky Flats, INEEL, and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, are the first three waste generator sites slated to ship waste to the WIPP.

Rocky Flats will send approximately 9,200 cubic meters of contact handled waste to the WIPP. The DOE will use the Transuranic Package Transporter Model 2, or TRUPACT-II, to safely transport about 1,370 shipments containing an estimated 46,000 55-gallon drums of radioactive waste out of Colorado through the year 2006.

The DOE’s Carlsbad Area Office is responsible for the WIPP and National Transuranic Waste programs.

The National Transuranic Waste Program administers nationwide generation/storage site programs for characterizing, transporting, packaging, storing, and disposing of transuranic waste. Defense-generated transuranic waste is temporarily stored at 23 sites nationwide.

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WIPP Scientists Dispute "Air Drilling" Report

CARLSBAD, N.M. - January 8, 1998 – Scientists with Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) and Westinghouse Electric Company’s Waste Isolation Division have determined that the likelihood of air drilling in the vicinity of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) and the consequences of such drilling, if it were to occur, would not produce the results claimed in a recent report on the issue.

The report, by California-based engineer John Bredehoeft, claims that the use of air drilling to recover natural resources in the vicinity of the WIPP could cause a release of radiation from the repository that exceeds limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Air drilling has been excluded from use, by regulation, since 1982 in the portion of the Delaware Basin where the WIPP is located. In research by Westinghouse personnel, drilling companies operating in the 300 square miles surrounding the WIPP stated unequivocally that this technology is not a current practice. They further stated that use of this method in the region is impractical because of economic and operator safety concerns.

Westinghouse personnel found only two wells out of 1,401 located within a 16-mile radius of the WIPP in which air drilling had been used. In both cases, the method was used only for drilling portions of the wells. Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor for the DOE at the WIPP.

SNL scientists conducted an extensive review of the report, paying particular attention to the computer modeling Bredehoeft used to estimate potential radioactive releases resulting from air drilling near the WIPP. SNL is the scientific advisor to the DOE at the WIPP.

"Our review of the report found that Mr. Bredehoeft’s modeling methods included the use of a computer code that is not applicable to an air-drilling scenario," said Dr. M. K. Knowles, senior member of SNL’s technical staff. "Any results obtained from this code are meaningless, because the fundamental physical conditions present during an air-drilling operation are absent from this code. The report’s conclusions about the consequences of air drilling into the WIPP are overstated."

The EPA is reviewing the Bredehoeft report along with all other comments it receives during the public comment period on the WIPP’s compliance certification.

"The EPA has announced its intention to certify the WIPP for disposal of radioactive transuranic waste," said George Dials, manager of the DOE’s Carlsbad Area Office, which administers the WIPP. "The science that went into our compliance certification application has passed independent reviews by national and international experts. The EPA was correct in excluding air drilling as a necessary scenario for inclusion in our application. We are confident that Mr. Bredehoeft’s report will have no bearing on the EPA’s final decision to certify the WIPP’s compliance with regulatory standards."

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New Mexico State and Federal Leaders Attend DOE Dedication of WIPP Disposal Room

CARLSBAD, N.M. - January 8, 1998 - Federal and state officials from New Mexico gathered today in an underground disposal room at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) for a ceremony recognizing the state’s role in solving a national problem.

Congressman Joe Skeen of New Mexico met today with representatives from the offices of Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman, and officials from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office to dedicate the "New Mexico Room."

"As I look around me today," said Skeen, a long-time WIPP advocate, "I see the faces of some of the most respectable men and women in the state and the nation, all joining forces to meet a national need. I am honored to be associated with you and with this project."

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in Los Alamos, N.M., is scheduled to ship 10,000 cubic meters (the equivalent of 51,000 55-gallon drums) of contact-handled transuranic waste to the WIPP. This spring, the DOE will begin transporting the first of approximately 1,265 shipments of transuranic waste from LANL to the WIPP using the Transuranic Package Transporter Model 2, or TRUPACT-II.

The New Mexico Room -- Room 6 of Panel 1 in the WIPP underground -- is the second disposal room to be dedicated to a state hosting major transuranic waste generator/storage sites throughout the country. DOE officials dedicated Room 7 of Panel 1 as the "Idaho Room" on October 2, 1997. The two states will be among the first to ship waste to the WIPP.

Carlsbad Area Office Manager George Dials noted the impact state and national leaders have had on the project’s success.

"Without these leaders, who have maintained confidence in what we’re doing here, there would not be a WIPP," said Dials. "Today’s ceremony is in honor of them and the many others who have supported this project through the years."

A cornerstone of the DOE’s national clean-up strategy, the WIPP is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic waste generated by defense-related activities. Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad, project facilities include disposal rooms excavated 2,150 feet underground (about a half mile) in an ancient, stable salt formation. Transuranic waste consists primarily of tools, gloves, clothing and other such items contaminated with trace amounts of radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

The WIPP is scheduled to begin accepting waste this spring, pending final certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

 

 

 


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