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1999 News Releases

DOE's Barbara Smith Returns to Carlsbad -- December 13

Nine WIPP Employees Taken to Hospital as Precaution Following Acid Spill -- December 8

Project Management Institute Certifies Stan Sims As Project Management Professional -- December 8

Project Management Institute Certifies Gary Young As Project Management Professional -- December 8

Project Management Institute Certifies Bo Bowen As Project Management Professional -- November 30

Westinghouse Names Norman Bowering Manager of Hoisting Operations -- November 30

Westinghouse Plans WIPP Procurement Symposium -- November 12

WIPP Trainers to Provide Instruction For Midland-Odessa Emergency Response Personnel -- October 29

TRUPACT-II Shipping Containers to be Built -- October 26

WIPP Trainers to Provide Instruction for Colorado Emergency Response Personnel -- October 21

Westinghouse Offers Information Session On College Distance Learning Program -- October 15

Westinghouse Names Randy Britain Manager of Remote-Handled Waste Operations -- October 13

Secretary Richardson Names Gary King To Key Post At the Department of Energy -- September 28

Officials With U.S. and French Atomic Safety Organizations Agree, WIPP is Best Solution for Nuclear Waste Disposal Problem -- September 27

State Highway Officials to Convene in Carlsbad, Commence Monthly Meeting With WIPP Tour -- September 21

Project Management Institute Certifies WIPP's Greg Brown as Project Management Professional -- September 21

WIPP' s Tom Ferguson Certified as Project Management Professional -- September 17

WIPP's Greg Harrie Earns Project Management Certification - September 17

WIPP Instructors to Provide Specialized Training For Mississippi Emergency Response Professionals -- September 14

Officials With Korea Atomic Energy Institute Agree WIPP is Best Solution for Nuclear Waste Disposal Problem -- September 13

Jay Lees Named Manager of Internal Communications For Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division -- September 3

WIPP Instructors to Provide Specialized Training for Washington State Emergency Response Professionals - September 3

Second Shipment of Transuranic Waste Leaves Idaho Destined for WIPP -- August 23

WIPP Instructors to Provide Specialized Training For Georgia Emergency Response Professionals -- August 16

Energy Secretary Richardson Announces Department of Energy's Plans for WIPP Management Contract -- August 5

WIPP Instructors to Provide Specialized Training For Oregon Emergency Response Professionals -- August 4

DOE Begins Extending Underground Tunnel at WIPP -- July 21

WIPP Specialists Grade Waste Handling and Loading Procedures At Los Alamos National Laboratory -- July 19

Emergency Response Training Draws Professionals From Six States -- July 16

Department of Energy Issues Request for Proposals To Build TRUPACT-II Shipping Containers -- July 6

Dislodged Placard Slows WIPP Shipment -- July 1

DOE Finds Acceptable Loading and Inspection Practices for WIPP Shipments at Rocky Flats -- June 30

DOE to Review Loading and Inspection Practices For WIPP Shipments -- June 24

Rocky Flats Shipment Arrives Safely At WIPP -- June 16, 1999

First Shipment of Transuranic Waste From Rocky Flats to WIPP Scheduled -- June 14, 1999

International Conference Highlights the Use of Geologic Formations For Radioactive Waste Disposal -- June 11, 1999

Westinghouse Awards Contract for Hospital Training -- June 9, 1999

Westinghouse, WIPP Are First To Be Recertified Under Prestigious Voluntary Protection Program -- June 4, 1999

WIPP Emergency Response Instructors Begin Extensive Training in Georgia - May 10, 1999

Emergency Response Professionals Attend Specialized Training in Carlsbad - May 6, 1999ff

WIPP Emergency Response Trainers Earn Hazardous Materials Certification - May 3, 1999

INEEL Shipment Arrives Safely At Waste Isolation Pilot Plant - April 28, 1999

WIPP Emergency Response Instructors Train Idaho Tribal Members in Preparation for Waste Shipments - April 21, 1999

Energy Secretary Bill Richardson Lauds WIPP’s Opening As Cornerstone of DOE’s Cold War Cleanup Effort - April 17, 1999

Secretary Richardson Announces Intent to Name Dr. Inès Triay as Manager of the Carlsbad Area Office - April 16, 1999

DOE Announces First Shipment of Transuranic Waste From INEEL to WIPP on April 27, 1999 - April 13, 1999

World's First Underground Waste Repository Begins Operations - March 26, 1999

Statement by Energy Secretary Richardson On Ruling by U.S. District Judge John Garrett Penn - March 22, 1999

WIPP Mine Rescue Team Members Offer Life-Saving Training to Mexico Mining Communities - March 16, 1999

WIPP Personnel Plan Activities For National Engineers Week - February 17, 1999

 


DOE's Barbara Smith Returns to Carlsbad

Carlsbad, N.M., December 13, 1999 -- Barbara Smith has returned to the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office from DOE's Grand Junction Projects Office in Grand Junction, Colo.

Smith rejoined the Carlsbad Area Office as Acting Assistant Manager, Office of Program Support. Her duties include managing procurement and personnel functions, program planning and budgeting, training and information resources management.

Smith previously worked with the Carlsbad Area Office from 1994-1996 as the DOE Contracting Officer. From 1996 until her return to Carlsbad, she was Contracting Officer for DOE's Grand Junction Office.

Smith began her career with the federal government 31 years ago. After spending eight years with the Department of Defense, she began her work with DOE. Smith has also worked in the DOE operations offices in Albuquerque, Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Idaho Falls, Idaho.

She and her husband Ralph, who is also employed with DOE, have one son.

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Nine WIPP Employees Taken to Hospital as Precaution Following Acid Spill

CARLSBAD, N.M., December 8, 1999 -- Nine Westinghouse employees at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) were taken to the Carlsbad Medical Center today as a precaution after being exposed to fumes from a small spill of hydrochloric acid.

The spill occurred at approximately 2:30 p.m. as a container broke while being moved on a pushcart in the breezeway between the Support Building and the Waste Handling Building at WIPP.

The contents, approximately 2.5 liters of hydrochloric acid, were contained within the cart's tray and did not reach the floor. While none of the workers came into physical contact with the acid, they were exposed to the fumes emitted by the chemical. None of the employees was incapacitated, and all were transported to the Carlsbad Medical Center as a precaution.

Hydrochloric acid is used in the WIPP laboratory for digesting samples . As a hazardous material, it is handled according to regulations governing such chemicals. While the incident is not reportable under environmental law, site management is evaluating procedures for the safe movement of chemicals.

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

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Project Management Institute Certifies Stan Sims As Project Management Professional

CARLSBAD, N.M., December 8, 1999 -- The Project Management Institute in Philadelphia, Pa., has certified Stan Sims of Carlsbad as a Project Management Professional (PMP).

Project management is the art of directing and coordinating human, material and financial resources through the life of a project. Project management includes the use of modern management techniques to achieve predetermined objectives of scope, cost, time, quality and stakeholder satisfaction.

Sims is Manager of Program Integration for the Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division. The Program Integration Section is responsible for developing schedules to guide the many activities associated with operating the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) and ensuring that scheduled activities are completed as planned.

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

To achieve certification, each candidate must satisfy education and experience requirements established by the institute and must pass the Project Management Professional Certification Examination. The exam tests the candidate's understanding and knowledge of project management.

The PMP designation symbolizes knowledge and accomplishment and is highly regarded by colleagues and employers. It shows an individual has a solid foundation of experience and education in project management, which can have a positive impact on bottom-line results.

The Project Management Institute, established in 1969, is based in Philadelphia, Pa. It is the world's leading not-for-profit project management association. Worldwide, there are more than 12,000 project management professionals in over 25 countries.

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Project Management Institute Certifies Gary Young As Project Management Professional

CARLSBAD, N.M., December 8, 1999 -- The Project Management Institute in Philadelphia, Pa., has certified Gary Young of Carlsbad as a Project Management Professional (PMP).

Project management is the art of directing and coordinating human, material and financial resources through the life of a project. Project management includes the use of modern management techniques to achieve predetermined objectives of scope, cost, time, quality and stakeholder satisfaction.

Young is Manager of the Environment, Safety and Health Integration Section of the Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). His job responsibilities include oversight of several programs such as the WIPP Emergency Management Program, the WIPP Waste Acceptance Criteria Program, the Westinghouse Standards and Requirements Identification Program and the As Low As Reasonably Achievable Program that guides radiation management.

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

To achieve certification, each candidate must satisfy education and experience requirements established by the institute and must pass the Project Management Professional Certification Examination. The exam tests the candidate\rquote s understanding and knowledge of project management.

The PMP designation symbolizes knowledge and accomplishment and is highly regarded by colleagues and employers. It shows an individual has a solid foundation of experience and education in project management, which can have a positive impact on bottom-line results.

The Project Management Institute, established in 1969, is based in Philadelphia, Pa. It is the world's leading not-for-profit project management association. Worldwide, there are more than 12,000 project management professionals in over 25 countries.

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Project Management Institute Certifies Bo Bowen As Project Management Professional

CARLSBAD, N.M., November 30, 1999 -- The Project Management Institute in Philadelphia, Pa., has certified Carlsbad native Bo Bowen as a Project Management Professional (PMP).

Project management is the art of directing and coordinating human, material and financial resources through the life of a project. Project management includes the use of modern management techniques to achieve predetermined objectives of scope, cost, time, quality and stakeholder satisfaction.

Bowen is Senior Systems Analyst for the Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division Controller's Department. His job responsibilities include cost account management support for the Information Resource Management group and maintenance of the computer hardware and software standards for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy's Carlsbad Area Office at WIPP.

To achieve certification, each candidate must satisfy education and experience requirements established by the institute and must pass the Project Management Professional Certification Examination. The exam tests the candidate's understanding and knowledge of project management.

The PMP designation symbolizes knowledge and accomplishment and is highly regarded by colleagues and employers. It shows an individual has a solid foundation of experience and education in project management, which can have a positive impact on bottom-line results.

The Project Management Institute, established in 1969, is based in Philadelphia, Pa. It is the world\rquote s leading not-for-profit project management association. Worldwide, there are more than 12,000 project management professionals in over 25 countries.

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Westinghouse Names Norman Bowering Manager of Hoisting Operations

CARLSBAD, N.M., November 30, 1999 -- The Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division (WID) has named Norman Bowering of Carlsbad manager of Hoisting Operations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

As Hoisting Operations Manager, Bowering is responsible for all systems associated with the three hoists that descend from the surface of the WIPP site to the 2,150-foot-deep WIPP underground. The three hoists are located at the Air Intake Shaft, the Salt Handling Shaft, and the Waste Shaft.

"Over the past 15 years, Norman has become one of the most knowledgeable and experienced hoist operators on the project," said Joe Epstein, WID General Manager. "His experience at this juncture in the WIPP' s underground development is invaluable."

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

Bowering came to Carlsbad from Utah in 1983. He began his W IPP career as a hoist operator with WIPP contractor Obyashi, later joining Westinghouse in 1988. Prior to his most recent management appointment, he served as team leader for hoisting operations.

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, WIPP project facilities include disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation 2,150 feet (almost one-half mile) underground. Waste disposal operations began at WIPP March 26, 1999.

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

For more information about WIPP, call 1-800-336-9477, or visit our Web site at http://www.wipp.ws.

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Westinghouse Plans WIPP Procurement Symposium

CARLSBAD, N.M., November 12, 1999 --Area businesses have been invited to attend the WIPP Procurement Symposium on Thursday, November 18, at the Pecos River Village Conference Center.  The event, designed to enhance supplier relations and reinforce supplier quality expectations, is scheduled for 8:45 a.m. to noon.

Carlsbad and Eddy County companies will be provided information about doing business with WIPP, including how to fill out applications to become a qualified WIPP supplier.  A team of procurement specialists will provide information and answer questions.

Representatives of the Rio Grande Minority Purchasing Council will also discuss the new Small Disadvantaged Business Certification Program.

Additionally, members of Westinghouse’s Technology Transfer Program will explain how businesses, educational institutions and taxpayers can obtain WIPP-developed technology at no cost.

For more information on the symposium, please call Prissy Dugger of the Westinghouse Procurement Group at 234-7553.

For more information about WIPP, call 1-800-336-9477, or visit our Web site at http://www.wipp.ws.

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WIPP Trainers to Provide Instruction For Midland-Odessa Emergency Response Personnel

CARLSBAD, N.M., October 29, 1999 --Trainers from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) will be in Odessa, Texas, Nov. 2-4, to provide instruction to Midland-Odessa emergency response personnel who would be in charge at the scene of an accident involving a WIPP shipment.

Shipments of transuranic radioactive waste from the DOE's Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C., are scheduled to beg in next year. The trucks will travel through Texas on Interstate 20 from Shreveport, La., to Pecos. They will then follow U.S. 285 to the New Mexico state line.

Three one-day classes will be held at the Odessa Fire Department Training Grounds, located at the south end of Dixie Street. The class titled "Command and Control" includes a review of emergency actions for first responders.

Students will also participate in a table-top exercise Nov. 9 at the Odessa Police Department Emergency Operations Cent er. Students will use scale models of urban and rural highway transportation environments to demonstrate their ability to adapt concepts taught in the course to their own local procedures and requirements.

First responders are individuals who arrive first at scenes of accidents. They include law enforcement personnel, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, and tow truck operators.

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

Since the inception of STEP in 1988, the DOE has trained more than 17,000 emergency response personnel in 17 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, Incident Command System, Command and Control, Mitigation, and Medical Management.

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 (almost one-half mile) underground. Waste disposal operations began at WIPP March 26, 1999.

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

For more information about WIPP, call 1-800-336-9477, or visit our Web site at http://www.wipp.ws.

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TRUPACT-II Shipping Containers to be Built

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., October 26, 1999 -- The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has made an initial order for the fabrication and delivery of 12 TRUPACT-II shipping containers to meet state compliance agreements for moving transuranic (TRU) waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

NAC International of Norcross, GA, and Westinghouse Engineering Products Department of Carlsbad, NM, have each been awarded contracts to manufacture the initial six TRUPACT-II shipping containers.

"Awarding of these contracts now places the Department in a solid position to meet increased shipment of transuranic waste to WIPP in the year 2000," Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson said.

NAC International received $3.2 million and Westinghouse Engineering Products $1.9 million to manufacture the initial six containers. DOE determined that awarding two contracts for this effort substantially reduces the risk of fabrication problems inherent in making a single award.

Congressman Joe Skeen (R-NM) said, "I'm pleased that DOE has awarded this contract to the local Westinghouse products office. Not only will this contract have a positive economic impact on the local community, but also, Westinghouse has an excellent safety record. They will do a top-notch job in producing these containers that are vital to the overall waste management efforts."

The current inventory of 15 TRUPACT-II containers were manufactured nearly 10 years a go. Certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the containers are built to last well past the 35-year WIPP project disposal period. WIPP is expected to receive the first manufactured containers by March 2000.

Under the five-year contract the companies can be required to manufacture and deliver additional TRUPACT-II and HalfPACT shipping containers at additional cost to DOE.

WIPP, a cornerstone of DOE' s cleanup strategy, is designed to permanently dispose of defense-generated transuranic radioactive waste left from the research and production of nuclear weapons. Transuranic waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, and other disposable items contaminated with radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

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.

For more information about WIPP, call 1-800-336-9477, or visit our Web site at http://www.wipp.ws.

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WIPP Trainers to Provide Instruction for Colorado Emergency Response Personnel

CARLSBAD, N.M., October 21, 1999 -- Trainers from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) will be in Pueblo, Colorado, Oct. 26-28 to provide instruction to emergency response personnel who would be in charge at the scene of an accident involving a WIPP shipment.

To date, DOE has safely transported 20 shipments of transuranic radioactive waste through Colorado -- 16 from the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site near Boulder and four from the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory near Idaho Falls. Trucks follow Interstate 25 through Colorado.

The two-day class titled "Command and Control" will be held at the Pueblo Fire Department. The class includes a review of emergency actions for first responders. Students also participate in table-top exercises using scale models of urban and rural highway transportation environments to demonstrate their ability to adapt concepts taught in the course to their own local procedures and requirements.

First responders are individuals who arrive first at scenes of accidents. They include law enforcement personnel, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, and tow truck operators.

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

Since the inception of STEP in 1988, the DOE has trained more than 17,000 emergency response personnel in 17 states, includin g more than 2,000 in Colorado. 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, Incident Command System, Command and Control, Mitigation and Medical Management.

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 (almost one-half mile) underground. Waste disposal operations began at WIPP March 26, 1999.

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

For more information about WIPP, call 1-800-336-9477, or visit our Web site at http://www.wipp.ws.

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Westinghouse Offers Information Session On College Distance Learning Program

CARLSBAD, N.M., October 15, 1999 -- Following a show of interest among local residents to earn masters of business administration degrees, the Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division is bringing to Carlsbad Dr. Lou Workman of Utah State University to discuss the school's distance learning program.

Dr. Workman, Director of Regional Programming at Utah State University in Logan, Utah, is scheduled to speak October 19 at 5:30 p.m., in the Weart Auditorium at the Skeen-Whitlock Building, 4021 National Parks Highway. The public is invited.

During the session, Dr. Workman will outline the course requirements, admission procedures, prerequisites, graduate exam, and registration deadlines . The program, which consists of Friday-evening and Saturday-morning classes, would take approximately two years to complete and could begin as early as March 2000.

Following the meeting, Dr. Workman will be available to meet with anyone interested in other degree programs offered through the university's distance learning program. Other degrees offered include engineering, computer science, accounting, business administration, English and human resource management.

For more information about the program, contact Dr. Workman at (435) 797-2171, or Westinghouse Career Counselor David Chavez at 234-8330.

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Westinghouse Names Randy Britain Manager of Remote-Handled Waste Operations

CARLSBAD, N.M., October 13, 1999 -- The Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division has appointed Randy Britain of Artesia as manager of remote-handled waste operations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

Remote-handled (RH) transuranic waste operations are scheduled to begin in January 2002.

"Randy's lengthy tenure at WIPP and his extensive experience and training in waste handling make him the best choice for this important position," said Waste Isolation Division General Manager Joe Epstein.

WIPP is currently disposing of contact-handled (CH) radioactive transuranic waste. CH waste emits a low level of radioactivity and, therefore, requires no protective shielding beyond the waste container itself. CH waste handlers are not required to wear special protective clothing when working with CH waste containers.

RH waste emits gamma rays, which are stronger than the alpha or beta particles released by CH waste. RH waste is handled with remote-controlled machinery to protect the workers from potential exposure to gamma radiation.

Approximately three percent of the 6.2 million cubic feet of transuranic waste destined for WIPP is RH waste. The rest is CH waste.

Britain has worked at WIPP since the facility's construction phase in the early 1980s. He started as a continuous miner operator with Cementation West, which outfitted the salt shaft and initiated the underground mining at WIPP. He worked for two other WIPP contractors before joining Westinghouse in 1987 as a waste handling technician.

As manager of RH waste operations, Britain will oversee the development and implementation of RH waste handling procedures. He will oversee the training and qualifications of RH waste handling personnel, as well as the start-up and testing of the RH waste handling area of WIPP's Waste Handling Building.

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Secretary Richardson Names Gary King To Key Post At the Department of Energy

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 28 -- Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson today announced that Gary K. King will become the Director of the Office of Worker and Community Transition. King has been serving as Policy Advisor to the Department of Energy's (DOE) Assistant Secretary for Environmen tal Management (EM). He replaces Robert DeGrasse who has been named the Principal Deputy for Operations for DOE's Defense Programs organization.

"In his role as a policy advisor, Gary King has acquired first-hand familiarity with the communities where the Energy Department has operations, together with his knowledge and understanding about the strengths of these communities and the people who live in them, make him the perfect choice for th is key position," Secretary Richardson said. "I'm pleased that Gary will continue to serve as part of our leadership team in this capacity."

In his new role, King will be responsible for developing departmental policies and programs to plan for and mitigat e the impacts of changing conditions on the workers and communities affected by departmental mission changes. This office will also provide the departmental focal point for addressing labor issues and directing resources to stimulate economic development.

Before joining the Department of Energy, King served as the Corporate General Counsel and Senior Environmental Lawyer for Advanced Sciences Inc. (ASI). His responsibilities included general legal matters, including risk assessment and liab ility coverage, business practices, protection of information, public policies, and government regulations, with emphasis on environmental and waste management issues.

In that capacity he frequently was involved in programs and activities at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant through DOE' s Carlsbad Area Office Technical Assistance Contractor.

King also served six terms in the New Mexico House of Representatives where he was Chair of the Consumer and Public Affairs Committee.

He holds a B.S. degree in Chemistry from New Mexico State University and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Colorado University. King earned his law degree at the University of New Mexico.

EDITOR: Please note Gary King's connection to Carlsbad, as cited in the second paragraph on Page 2.

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Officials With U.S. and French Atomic Safety Organizations Agree WIPP is Best Solution for Nuclear Waste Disposal Problem

CARLSBAD, N.M., September 27, 1999 -- Ten officials representing the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and its sister agency in France say deep-geologic disposal, like that underway at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), is the best solution for safely and permanently isolating nuclear waste from the environment.

Nine members of the French Directorate for the Safety of Nuclear Installations (DSIN) joined the NRC's Howard Faulkner on a September 22 tour of WIPP in hopes of finding answers to help solve France's nuclear waste dilemma.

"WIPP is the repository by which all other nuclear waste repositories in the world will be measured," said Andre-Claud Lacoste of the DSIN. "After looking at the design of this facility and all of its redundant safety measures, I can say, without a doubt, that deep geological disposal is the best method by which to dispose of nuclear waste."

The French government decided last year to proceed with the construction of two deep rock laboratories, one at a clay site near Bure in eastern France, the other at a granite site to be determined in the near future. Both sites will be assessed for disposal of long-lived (mostly transuranic) and high-level radioactive waste, principally that from reprocessed spent nuclear fuel.

The construction of the clay-site laboratory is scheduled to begin later this year and is expected to be completed by the end of 2002. It will employ between 100 and 350 persons.

France is second in the world to Lithuania in its reliance on nuclear energy. Almost 80 percent of the country's electricity is produced by nuclear power.

"We are very impressed with the WIPP facility," said Lacoste. "This facility is of the highest quality. Quality and safety are outstanding here. This is how we need to approach siting a repository in our country."

The French visitors said a stable salt formation, coupled with the lack of any major seismic activity in the area and no water sources, makes WIPP an ideal site to dispose of radioactive waste. The facility's multiple safety mechanisms and facility design are also impressive, said Lacoste.

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State Highway Officials to Convene in Carlsbad, Commence Monthly Meeting With WIPP Tour

CARLSBAD, N.M., September 21, 1999 -- New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department officials, including Secretary Pete Rahn of Santa Fe, are scheduled to tour the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) tomorrow (September 22).

The tour is an added feature to this month's New Mexico State Highway Commission meeting, which will take place in Carlsbad on Thursday. The public portion of the meeting will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn.

Tomorrow's tour also will include State Highway Commission Chairman Holm Bursum of Socorro and Highway Commissioners Albert Sanchez of Santa Rosa, Peter Mocho of Belen, and Sherry Galloway of Farmington. Highway and Transportation Department Deputy Secretaries Adolfo Lucero and Charlie Trujillo, both of Santa Fe, will also be on the tour.

The State Highway and Transportation Department is an important agency to WIPP because it is responsible for highway improvements to the WIPP route through New Mexico. The Highway Commission determines the routing for WIPP shipments in the state.

In past years, the state has committed approximately $450 million in funding to WIPP-related highway projects including the ongoing expansion of U.S. 285 between Carlsbad and Clines Corners. The agency als o applied funding to the Santa Fe, Roswell and Carlsbad Relief Routes.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which administers WIPP, helped obtain from Congress most of the WIPP-related highway construction and improvement funding.

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Project Management Institute Certifies WIPP's Greg Brown as Project Management Professional

CARLSBAD, N.M., September 21, 1999 -- The Project Management Institute in Philadelphia, Pa., recently certified Carlsbad High School graduate Greg Brown as a Project Management Professional (PMP).

Project management is the art of directing and coordinating human, material and financial resources through the life of a project. Project management includes the use of modern management techniques to achieve predeterm ined objectives of scope, cost, time, quality and stakeholder satisfaction.

Brown, a 1983 CHS graduate, earned his bachelor's degree in finance from Texas Tech University in Lubbock and his master's in business administration from Eastern New Mexico University. He joined the Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division in June 1992 and is employed as a Senior Project and Cost Analyst in the division\rquote s Program Management Department. Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy's Carlsbad Area Office at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

To achieve certification, each candidate must satisfy education and experience requirements established by the institute and must pass the Project Management Professional Certification Examination. The exam tests the candidate\rquote s understanding and knowledge of project management.

The PMP designation symbolizes knowledge and accomplishment and is highly regarded by colleagues and employers. It shows an individual has a solid foundation of experience and education in project management, which can have a positive impact on bottom-line results.

The Project Management Institute, established in 1969, is based in Philadelphia, Pa. It is the world's leading not-for-profit project management association. Worldwide, there are more than 12,000 project management professionals in over 25 countries.

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WIPP' s Tom Ferguson Certified as Project Management Professional

CARLSBAD, N.M., September 17, 1999 --The world's leading project management association recently certified Tom J. Ferguson of Carlsbad as a Project Management Professional.

Project management is the art of directing and coordinating human, material and financial resources through the life of a project. Project management includes the use of modern management techniques to achieve predetermined objectives of scope, cost, time, quality and stakeholder satisfaction.

Ferguson is Manager of Quality Assurance Oversight Programs for the Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). He oversees the internal and supplier audit programs for WIPP. In addition, he is responsible for management of the division's corrective action program.

Since joining the Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division in 1987, Ferguson has managed several WIPP programs, including mine operations. Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy's Carlsbad Area Office at WIPP.

A Carlsbad native, Ferguson served as development engineer for Potash Company of America from 1985 to 1987. He holds a bachelor of science degree in biology from New Mexico State University.

To achieve project management certification, each candidate must satisfy education and experience requirements established by the institute and must pass the Project Management Professional Certification Examination. The exam tests the candidate \rquote s understanding and knowledge of project management.

The Project Management Professional designation symbolizes knowledge and accomplishment and is highly regarded by colleagues and employers. It shows an individual has a solid foundation of experience and education in project management, which can h ave a positive impact on bottom-line results.

The Project Management Institute, established in 1969, is based in Philadelphia, Pa. It is the world's leading not-for-profit project management association. Worldwide, there are more than 12,000 project management professionals in over 25 countries.

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WIPP's Greg Harrie Earns Project Management Certification

CARLSBAD, N.M., September 17, 1999 -- Greg Harrie of Carlsbad has earned certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP) through the Project Management Institute in Philadelphia, Pa.

Project management is the art of directing and coordinating human, material and financial resources through the life of a project. Project management includes the use of modern management techniques to achieve predetermined objectives of scope, cost, time, quality and stakeholder satisfaction.

Harrie joined Westinghouse at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Hanford, Wash., site in 1979. He came to the Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division in Carlsbad in February 1996, and is currently Manager of Information Resources Management. The Information Resources Management group oversees and maintains the computer network system, the telecommunication system, and the computer security program at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor for the DOE's Carlsbad Area Office at WIPP.

To achieve certification, each candidate must satisfy education and experience requirements established by the institute and must pass the Project Management Professional Certification Examination. The exam tests the candidate\rquote s understanding and knowledge of project management.

The PMP designation symbolizes knowledge and accomplishment and is highly regarded by colleagues and employers. It shows an individual h as a solid foundation of experience and education in project management, which can have a positive impact on bottom-line results.

The Project Management Institute, established in 1969, is based in Philadelphia, Pa. It is the world's leading not-for-prof it project management association. Worldwide, there are more than 12,000 project management professionals in over 25 countries.

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WIPP Instructors to Provide Specialized Training For Mississippi Emergency Response Professionals

CARLSBAD, N.M., September 14, 1999 -- Trainers from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) are in Mississippi to teach emergency response professionals how to handle a traffic accident involving a WIPP shipment. Classes are being held in several communities along Interstate 20 through mid-October.

Transuranic radioactive waste shipments from the DOE's Savannah River Site in South Carolina are tentatively scheduled to begin in early 2000. Trucks coming from the Savannah River Site will follow Interstate 20 through Mississippi en route to WIPP.

Classes began Sept. 13 in Jackson and will continue there through Sept. 17. The training will be conducted in Vicksburg Sept. 27 through Oct. 1, with an additional session scheduled in Jackson Oct. 2. Classes are scheduled for Meridian Oct. 11-14 and in Forest Oct. 18-19.

Instructors are teaching a course titled "First Responder," which provides emergency responders from state and local jurisdictions with tools to protect themselves, the public and the environment in the unlikely event of a transportation accident involving a shipment headed for WIPP.

First responders are individuals who arrive first at scenes of accidents. They include law enforcement personnel, emergency medical technicians, firefighters and tow truck operators.

The course, offered through the DOE Carlsbad Area Office's States and Tribal Education Program (STEP), is taught by instructors from the Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division, the management and operating contractor for the DOE at WIPP. Students are instructed in material identification, regulations, response procedures, and personal protection.

Since the inception of STEP in 1988, the DOE has trained more than 15,000 emergency response personnel in 17 states. In 1993 and again in 1997, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reviewed and concurred with all STEP courses. STEP cou rses include Train-The-Trainer, First Responder, First Responder Refresher, Command and Control, Incident Command System, Mitigation and Medical Management.

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Officials With Korea Atomic Energy Institute Agree WIPP is Best Solution for Nuclear Waste Disposal Problem

CARLSBAD, N.M., September 13, 1999 -- Four officials representing the (South) Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) say deep-geologic disposal, like that underway at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), is the world's best hope for permanently isolating nuclear waste from the environment.

Dr. Chul-Hyung Kang, head of KAERI's Geological Disposal System for nuclear waste, along with Dr. Hyun-Soo Park, KAERI Executive Vice-Pres ident and two other research associates today visited WIPP on a fact-finding mission.

"When it comes to design and modeling, WIPP is number one in the world," said Dr. Kang. "Like the rest of the world, disposing of nuclear waste is a problem for South Korea. We have learned much during this trip."

KAERI is the national research institution for promoting its country's peaceful applications of nuclear energy by carrying out integrated research and development activities in the nuclear field, including radioactive waste disposal.

During their visit to southeastern New Mexico, the South Korean officials received an overview of the U.S. nuclear waste problem, toured the WIPP surface and underground facilities, and learned of the state-of-the-art ground monitoring system in place at the world\rquote s only underground repository for defense-generated transuranic waste.

"We are very impressed with the WIPP facility," said Dr. Park. "This facility is of the highest quality. Quality and safety are outstanding here. This is how we need to approach siting a repository in our country."

The South Korean visitors said a stable salt formation, coupled with the lack of any major seismic activity in the area and no water sources, makes WIPP an ideal site t o dispose of radioactive waste. The facility's multiple safety mechanisms and facility design are also impressive, said Dr. Kang.

The group will visit the Yucca Mountain Project next week. Yucca Mountain, located about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nev., is the proposed site for disposing of defense- and commercially-generated, high-level radioactive waste.

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Jay Lees Named Manager of Internal Communications For Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division

CARLSBAD, N.M., September 3, 1999 -- Jay Lees of Carlsbad has been appointed Manager of Internal Communications at the Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division (WID).

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

Lees oversees the development of internal communications tools, including a daily electronic newsletter designed to keep WIPP personnel informed about day-to-day activities associated with the project. He also oversees the creation of information products for use in presentations to various public audiences. Such products include graphic art, ph otographs and video tapes.

"Jay is a proven communicator and has played a key role in support of our work at WIPP," said WID General Manager Joe Epstein. "We see positive results daily from his group's dedication to provide employees and the public with useful information."

Prior to his recent appointment, Lees worked as a public affairs specialist in WIPP's community outreach programs, including the tour program.

He joined Westinghouse in 1992 after working as a television and radio news reporter.

A native of Portales, Lees graduated from Eastern New Mexico University in 1987 with a bachelor of science degree in communications with an emphasis in radio and television broadcasting.

Lees resides in Carlsbad with his wife, Catherine, and three sons, Josh, Rand and Rex.

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WIPP Instructors to Provide Specialized Training For Washington State Emergency Response Professionals

CARLSBAD, N.M., September 3, 1999 -- Trainers from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) will be in Richland, Wash., Sept. 8-10 to teach emergency response professionals how to handle a traffic accident involving a WIPP shipment. Classes will be held at the DOE\rquote s Hazardous Materials Management and Emergency Response Training and Education Center in Richland.

Transuranic radioactive waste shipments from the DOE' s Hanford Site near Richland are tentatively scheduled to begin in early 2000. Trucks coming from the Hanford Site will follow Interstates 182 and 82 to the Washington-Oregon state line.

Instructors will teach a course titled "First Responder," which provides emergency responders from state and local jurisdictions with tools to protect themselves, the public and the environment in the unlikely event of a transportation accident involving a shipment headed for WIPP.

First responders are individuals who arrive first at scenes of accidents. They include law enforcement personnel, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, and tow truck operators.

The course, offered through the DOE Carlsbad Area Office's States and Tribal Education Program (STEP), are taught by instructors from the Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division, the management and operating contractor for the DOE at WIPP. Students are instructed in material identification, regulations, response procedures, and personal protection.

Since the inception of STEP in 1988, the DOE has trained more than 15,000 emergency response personnel in 17 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.

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Second Shipment of Transuranic Waste Leaves Idaho Destined for WIPP

CARLSBAD, N.M., August 23, 1999 -- The second shipment of radioactive waste left the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) today, making good on the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) continuing commitment to get defense-generated transuranic waste out of Idaho. The shipment is destined for permanent disposal at the nation's first underground transuranic waste repository, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

"In our 1995 agreement with the state of Idaho and the U.S. Navy, we committed to removing 3,100 cubic meters, or about 15,000 drums, of transuranic waste from INEEL by the end of 2002," said Department of Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. "Today's shipment of 28 drums represents another important step toward meeting that commitment."

The shipment, which consisted of 28 drums of non-mixed waste, left the Idaho site at about 1:15 p.m. (MDT). It is expected to arrive at WIPP at about 1 a.m. (MDT) on Wednesday, Aug. 25. Non-mixed transuranic waste consists of disposable items -- like clothing, tools, rags and debris -- contaminated with radioactive elements. The waste is not contaminated with chemicals -- like cleaning solvents or lead -- that would cause it to be regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

INEEL, which began its shipping campaign in April, temporarily lost its site certification to ship waste in May as a result of the DOE's Carlsbad Area Office annual recertification audit. INEEL's corrective actions have been reviewed by the Carlsbad Area Office and are considered complete and verified, enabling INEEL to resume waste shipments. None of the audit findings compromised the safety of the first INEEL shipment, which left Idaho April 27, and arrived at WIPP on April 28.

The Carlsbad Area Office administers the National Transuranic Waste and WIPP programs.

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 (almost one-half mile) underground. Waste disposal operations began at WIPP March 26, 1999.

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WIPP Instructors to Provide Specialized Training For Georgia Emergency Response Professionals

CARLSBAD, N.M., August 16, 1999 -- Trainers from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) will be in Georgia Aug. 16-Sept. 3 to teach emergency response professionals what to do should they arrive at an accident involving a WIPP shipment.

Transuranic radioactive waste shipments from the DOE's Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C., and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Tennessee) are tentatively scheduled to begin next year. Trucks coming from Aiken will follow Interstate 20 through Georgia.

Classes will be held August 16-21, in Cobb County. WIPP trainers will then travel to Douglas County (Aug. 23-27) and Carroll and Haralson counties (Aug. 29-Sept. 3) to provide instruction.

Since January 1, more than 1,200 Georgia emergency response professionals have received training through the WIPP program. Another 400 are scheduled for training in August and September.

Instructors will teach three courses:

  • First Responder, which provides emergency responders from state and local jurisdictions with the tools needed to protect themselves, the public and the environment in the unlikely event of a transportation accident involving a shipment headed for the WIPP. First responders are individuals who arrive first at scenes of accidents. They include law enforcement personnel, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, and tow truck operators.

  • First Responder Refresher

  • Command and Control, a two-day course for emergency personnel who would be in charge at scenes of possible WIPP transportation accidents.

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

Students are instructed in material identification, regulations, response procedures, and personal protection. As part of the training, students will also see, first hand, the truck and shipping containers (Transuranic Package Transporter, Model 2 or TRUPACT-II) that will be used for actual WIPP shipments.

Since the inception of STEP in 1988, the DOE has trained more than 15,000 emergency response personnel in 17 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.

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 (almost one-half mile) underground. Waste disposal operations began at WIPP March 26, 1999.

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

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Energy Secretary Richardson Announces Department of Energy's Plans for WIPP Management Contract

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 5, 1999 -- Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson announced today that the Department of Energy (DOE) will conduct a competition for the management and operation contract of its Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, NM. Now that WIPP has opened and begun disposal operations, the department's goal is to enter into a new contract that provides the best management of this operating disposal facility.

"Now that we've begun the disposal of transuranic waste, we believe that competitive bidding provides our best opportunity to bring forth new ideas for managing and operating WIPP . We look forward to meeting the challenges of this critical national mission --- the disposal of transuranic wastes," said Secretary Richardson. "The Carlsbad community's support of WIPP makes our job easier. Carlsbad is truly a model of public spirit."

The WIPP management and operating contract was noncompetitively awarded in 1985 to Westinghouse and subsequently extended in 1990 and again in 1995. The current contract term concludes on September 30, 2000.

Westinghouse has performed well under its current contract and the department anticipates that the company will be a competitor in this procurement.

The department's general policy is to compete contracts at the end of the contract period. This policy fosters competition for DOE's contracts, innovative and cost-effective bidding and efficient expenditure of taxpayer dollars.

The Department of Energy recently awarded Bechtel B&W Idaho the contract for operation of DOE's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory. The department is currently conducting a number of other competitions for operation of its major facilities, including the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Fernald (OH) site.

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WIPP Instructors to Provide Specialized Training For Oregon Emergency Response Professionals

CARLSBAD, N.M., August 4, 1999 -- Trainers from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) will be in Oregon for the next two weeks to teach emergency response professionals what to do should they arrive at an accident involving a WIPP shipment.

Transuranic radioactive waste shipments from the DOE's Hanford Site near Richland, Wash., are tentatively scheduled to begin next year. Trucks will follow Interstate 84 through Oregon.

Classes will be held August 5-6, in Pendleton. Next week, WIPP trainers will travel to Baker City (Aug. 9-11) and Ontario (Aug. 12-13) to provide instruction.

Instructors will teach three courses:

  • First Responder, which provides emergency responders from state and local jurisdictions with the tools needed to protect themselves, the public and the environment in the unlikely event of a transportation accident involving a shipment headed for the WIPP. First responders are individuals who arrive first at scenes of accidents. They include law enforcement personnel, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, and tow truck operators.

  • First Responder Refresher.

  • Command and Control, a two-day course for emergency personnel who would be in charge at scenes of possible WIPP transportation accidents.

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

Students are instructed in material identification, regulations, response procedures, and personal protection. As part of the training, students will also see, first hand, the truck and shipping containers (Transuranic Package Transporter, Model 2 or TRU PACT-II) that will be used for actual WIPP shipments.

Since the inception of STEP in 1988, the DOE has trained more than 15,000 emergency response personnel in 17 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, Com mand and Control, Incident Command System, Mitigation and Medical Management.

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 (almost one-half mile) underground. Waste disposal operations began at WIPP March 26, 1999.

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

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Department of Energy Begins Extending Underground Tunnel at WIPP

CARLSBAD, N.M., July 21, 1999 -- The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) began work this week to extend an existing drift (tunnel) in the underground waste disposal facility at the Department's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). Earlier this month, the Department notified the New Mexico E Environment Department that this extension work would begin.

The extension will serve as an entryway for completion of the WIPP underground including additional waste disposal rooms. The drift also provides access for personnel and mining equipment as well as a pathway for air ventilation. The tunnel, which is about 16 feet wide and 13 feet from floor to ceiling, will be extended about 450 feet.

WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE's cleanup strategy, is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic 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 mostly plutonium contaminated clothing, tools, rags, debris and other disposable items.

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WIPP Specialists Grade Waste Handling and Loading Procedures At Los Alamos National Laboratory

CARLSBAD, N.M., July 19, 1999 -- Specialists from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) completed an assessment of the transuranic radioactive waste loading procedures at Los Alamos National Laboratory earlier this month.

The assessment included observations and critiques of the activities involved in loading a TRUPACT-II shipping container with standard waste boxes containing transuranic waste. The WIPP assessment team noted exemplary practices, as well as areas that could use improvement.

"The Los Alamos assessment was an extremely productive review, said Dr. In'es Triay, Manager of the Department of Energy's (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office. "What we've learned will be used to improve practices at all Department of Energy sites that intend to ship waste to WIPP."

Six reviewers from WIPP, including a quality assurance specialist, a transportation specialist, radiological control technicians and waste handling technicians, observed and critiqued the Los Alamos procedures. Los Alamos personnel earned good marks for their knowledge of operating procedures, professionalism in loading the TRUPACTs and for their team communication practices.

As a result of the Los Alamos assessment, and the previous assessment of waste handling procedures at the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site near Denver, the assessment team recommended to the Carlsbad Area Office that DOE sites share waste handling information and procedures.

"We found innovative techniques at Rocky Flats and Los Alamos that could benefit other sites," said Dr. Triay. "Now we need more effective methods to share such information."

Los Alamos also received one "corrective action" requiring updating of a procedure dealing with loading TRUPACT-IIs with 55-gallon drums. The revised procedure was not reflected as an update in the Los Alamos procedure book. So far, all Los Alamos waste shipments have been in standard waste boxes rather than 55-gallon drums. The revised procedure, therefore, has had no impact to date on loading and shipping processes.

The assessment team will perform the same review at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory on July 26. The DOE ordered assessments of DOE sites shipping to WIPP following a procedural infraction in the June 24 shipment of waste to WIPP from Los Alamos.

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. The facility began disposal operations on March 26, 1999.

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, and other disposable items contaminated with radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

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Emergency Response Training Draws Professionals From Six States

CARLSBAD, N.M., July 16, 1999 -- Twenty-one emergency response professionals from six states will be in Carlsbad next week to learn how to handle accidents involving radioactive and hazardous materials.

The course, titled "Train-The-Trainer: First Responder Radiological Transportation Emergency Course," is taught by members of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant's (WIPP) Emergency Responder Training Team. It provides emergency response professionals with the tools to teach colleagues First Responder and First Responder Refresher courses. Students this week are from California, Oregon, New Mexico, Alabama, Utah and Mississippi.

First responders are individuals who arrive at scenes of automobile accidents first. They include law enforcement personnel, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, tow truck operators, and state and U.S. Department of Transportation representatives .

WIPP first responder courses give students information about how to protect themselves, the public and the environment in the unlikely event of a transportation accident involving a transuranic waste shipment headed for WIPP. In addition to classroom activities at the Pecos River Village Conference Center, the class will tour the WIPP site.

The course, offered through the Department of Energy's Carlsbad Area Office, is part of the States and Tribal Education Program (STEP).

Since 1998, STEP trainers have taught 142 emergency responders through the Train-the-Trainer Program to teach WIPP First Responder and First Responder Refresher courses. Students learn about material identification, regulations, response procedures and personal protection.

Since the inception of STEP in 1988, the DOE has trained more than 15,000 emergency response personnel in 17 states. WIPP shipments will ultimately cross 30 states and 11 tribal lands.

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.

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, and other disposable items contaminated with radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

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Department of Energy Issues Request for Proposals To Manufacture TRUPACT-II Shipping Containers

CARLSBAD, N.M., July 6, 1999 -- The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office has issued a Request for Proposals to manufacture specialized shipping containers to transport transuranic radioactive waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

The initial order will be for the fabrication of 12 TRUPACT-II shipping containers. The contract will allow DOE to order up to 70 shipping containers over a five-year period. Proposals are due by July 26.

A Commerce Business Daily notice outlining plans for a separate WIPP carrier transportation contract, which will include requirements for the fabrication of additional TRUPACT-II shipping containers, was published on June 17, 1999. It has not been determined when DOE will issue a Request for Proposals, but it will most likely be in the fall. The carrier transportation contract is expected to cover a five-year period, and will provide for the services needed to ship transuranic radioactive waste from DOE generator and storage sites to WIPP.

Earlier this year, DOE canceled a solicitation for TRUPACT manufacturing and transportation services that would have been covered under a single contract. DOE canceled that solicitation due to delays in opening the WIPP. Since then, WIPP has opened and is currently receiving a limited number of shipments of non-mixed transuranic waste (waste that does not contain hazardous constituents); DOE therefore has separated the procurement into two parts to reflect current shipping needs and to allow for more timely manufacture of TRUPACT-IIs.

WIPP received its first shipment of waste in March, and the number of shipments is gradually increasing, requiring more shipping containers. Transportation services are currently provided by CAST Transportation Inc., of Henderson, Colorado. The current contract expires in March 2000.

It has been approximately 10 years since the current inventory of 15 TRUPACT-II containers was manufactured. The containers, which have a design that is certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, are built to last well past the 35-year period of the disposal operations at WIPP.

WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE's cleanup strategy, 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 (almost one-half mile) underground.

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

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Dislodged Placard Slows WIPP Shipment

RATON, N.M., July 1, 1999 -- A shipment carrying transuranic radioactive waste from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) was delayed briefly today to reinstall a placard (sign) that was dislodged by road vibration.

The dislodged placard was discovered as a result of a rigorous safety inspection program designed to detect even small vehicle problems. The inspection program was developed jointly by the DOE and the western states. A small air hose leak was also noted, but could not be reproduced. As a precautionary measure, however, drivers replaced the hose fitting where the leak occurred.

"Our goal is to achieve and maintain a perfect shipping record," said Dr. In'es Triay, manager of the DOE's Carlsbad Area Office, which administers the WIPP Program. "WIPP vehicles are subjected to much more rigorous inspection standards than other commercial shipments of hazardous materials. Our employees and contractors are also held to these higher standards. This is a fine example of how the inspection system works."

The dislodged placard -- one of four required by U.S. Department of Transportation regulations for vehicles carrying cargoes with certain levels of radioactivity -- was discovered during a routine inspection at the New Mexico Port of Entry. The other three placards were firmly in place. A $279 citation was issued by the New Mexico Motor Transportation Division for the alleged violation.

Drivers had performed a vehicle inspection only 70 miles from the Raton Port of Entry and found no air leaks or other defects at that time. The truck left the inspection station at about 5:15 p.m. (MDT) Thursday and is expected to arrive at the WIPP around 6 a.m. (MDT) Friday, July 2.

The shipment is the second from the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site near Boulder, Colo.

WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE's cleanup strategy, 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, and other disposable items contaminated radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

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DOE Finds Acceptable Loading and Inspection Practices for WIPP Shipments at Rocky Flats

CARLSBAD, N.M., June 30, 1999 – The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office (CAO) has announced that the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site has an acceptable transportation loading and inspection program and will continue shipping transuranic waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

Dr. Inés Triay, Manager of the Carlsbad Area Office, said an assessment team she dispatched to the Colorado site on June 27, completed a thorough review to ensure that all procedural steps are being followed by personnel readying transuranic waste shipments to WIPP.

"The team has determined that Rocky Flats can ship its second load of non-mixed transuranic waste to WIPP July 1, as scheduled," said Dr. Triay. "While the assessment found the Rocky Flats program to be entirely acceptable, the team is making several recommendations that will strengthen the program — both at Rocky Flats and here at the Carlsbad Area Office. The recommendations center on things such as adopting a more comprehensive training program based on updated requirements from CAO, and the need to update procedures to reflect improvements that have already been implemented at Rocky Flats."

DOE ordered reviews at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site, and the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL). The assessments were prompted by the discovery of a procedural infraction involving the June 24 shipment of waste to WIPP from LANL in which a vent port plug cover was not replaced on one of the TRUPACT-II shipping containers included in that shipment. The event posed no threat to the public or the environment.

The review at LANL is continuing. That facility is not scheduled to send another shipment of non-mixed transuranic waste to WIPP until July 14. A similar assessment will be conducted at INEEL in late July.

Non-mixed transuranic waste consists of disposable items – like clothing, tools, rags, and debris – contaminated with radioactive elements, mostly plutonium. The waste is not contaminated with chemicals – like cleaning solvents or lead – that would cause it to be regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

WIPP, a cornerstone of DOE’s cleanup effort, is designed to permanently dispose of defense-generated transuranic 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.

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DOE to Review Loading and Inspection Practices For WIPP Shipments

CARLSBAD, N.M., June 24, 1999 -- The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office today announced that it will conduct thorough reviews of adherence to loading and inspection procedures at sites currently shipping transuranic waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

Dr. Ines Triay, Manager of the Carlsbad Area Office, said assessment teams will be dispatched to the sites to ensure that all procedural steps are being followed by personnel readying shipments of transuranic waste bound for WIPP.

The reviews will be conducted at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site (RFETS), and the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL). This announcement was prompted by the discovery of a procedural infraction involving today's shipment of waste to WIPP from LANL.

"While the incident today did not pose a safety risk, our goal is to achieve and maintain a perfect record of operations," said Dr. Triay.

Waste handling technicians at WIPP discovered a vent port plug cover was missing from one of the TRUPACT-II shipping containers that arrived today from LANL. The missing vent port plug cover did not compromise the safety of the shipment.

This particular part is one of three levels of protection for the outer vent port plug on the TRUPACT-II. The plug cover acts much like a dust cover or thread protector, and is not a part of the waste containment system. This container was certified as "leak tight" prior to its departure from LANL.

The incident will be reported to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as required by NRC regulations. The NRC regulates and certifies the TRUPACT-II shipping containers.

"Our assessment teams will review the sites' practices in terms of following procedural steps and will make recommendations on any necessary corrective actions," said Dr. Triay. "We must ensure personnel at the shipping sites refocus on the importance of following each detailed step in the waste loading and inspection procedures."

LANL is not scheduled to send another shipment of non-mixed transuranic waste to WIPP until July 14. RFETS is scheduled to ship its second load of non-mixed transuranic waste to WIPP on July 1. Shipments from INEEL are expected to resume in August. These dates are subject to change, pending outcome of the assessments.

Non-mixed waste consists of disposable items -- like clothing, tools, rags, residues and debris -- contaminated with radioactive elements. The waste is not contaminated with chemicals -- like cleaning solvents or lead -- that would cause it to be regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

WIPP, a cornerstone of DOE's cleanup effort, is designed to permanently dispose of defense-generated transuranic 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.

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Rocky Flats Shipment Arrives Safely At Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

CARLSBAD, N.M., June 16, 1999 -- Energy Secretary Bill Richardson today announced that the first shipment of defense-generated transuranic radioactive waste from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site (RFETS) arrived safely at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

The shipment, which consisted of 26 drums of non-mixed waste, left the Rocky Flats, Colorado, site at approximately 8:30 p.m. (Mountain Daylight Time) Tuesday, June 15, and arrived at WIPP today at 1:49 p.m. (Mountain Daylight Time).

Non-mixed waste consists of disposable items -- like clothing, tools, rags, residues and debris -- contaminated with radioactive elements. The waste is not contaminated with chemicals -- like cleaning solvents or lead -- that would cause it to be regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Tuesday's shipment from Rocky Flats consisted of old graphite molds used in the former nuclear weapons production process.

"With this shipment, we continue to demonstrate our commitment to clean up and close Rocky Flats, and make good on our obligations to the state of Colorado," said Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. "Further, it shows the American people that we are making real progress toward cleaning up the Cold War legacy of nuclear weapons production -- and providing for safe, permanent disposal of transuranic waste."

RFETS will ultimately send about 2,000 shipments of transuranic waste to WIPP between now and the completion of the site's cleanup.

The 705-mile trip took about 17 hours, including the time required for WIPP drivers to stop and inspect the truck every 100 miles or two hours. The inspection stops are performed in accordance with safety protocols developed by DOE and the Western Governors' Association (WGA).

Since opening March 26, WIPP has received 13 shipments of transuranic waste. Eleven of the shipments came from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The other two waste shipments originated from Rocky Flats and the DOE's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory near Idaho Falls, Idaho. During the expected 35-year operating life of WIPP, the DOE will transport some 37,000 loads of transuranic waste from 23 locations nationwide.

Several years ago, DOE began working with the WGA, states and tribes along WIPP transportation routes to prepare for waste shipments. Since 1988, more than 15,000 emergency response professionals, including more than 6,000 in Colorado and New Mexico, have been trained nationwide.

WIPP, a cornerstone of DOE's cleanup effort, is designed to permanently dispose of defense-generated transuranic 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.

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First Shipment of Transuranic Waste From Rocky Flats to WIPP Scheduled for June 15, 1999

DENVER, Colo., June 14, 1999 -- On Tuesday, June 15, the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site (RFETS) will become the third U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) site to ship transuranic radioactive waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

"Shipping transuranic waste to WIPP for permanent disposal is a key to accelerating cleanup and achieving closure of Rocky Flats by 2006," Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson said.

The first shipment from Rocky Flats will contain 26 drums of "non-mixed" transuranic waste in three TRUPACT-II shipping containers. Non-mixed waste consists of items -- clothing, rags, residues and debris -- that are contaminated with radioactive elements, but not other hazardous materials.

Since March 26, WIPP has received 11 shipments of non-mixed transuranic waste. Ten of the shipments came from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The other waste shipment was from DOE's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory near Idaho Falls, Idaho.

The Rocky Flats shipment will travel the most direct route to WIPP, on U.S. Highway 36 and Interstate 25 to the Colorado/New Mexico state line. WIPP drivers will then connect with U.S. Highway 285 southeast of Santa Fe, N.M., and continue south to the WIPP facility.

The 705-mile trip, which takes about 17 hours, will be monitored by TRANSCOM, a computerized satellite tracking system. As part of their transportation procedures, drivers are required to perform safety checks on their trucks every two hours or 100 miles, whichever occurs first.

In preparation for the waste shipments to WIPP, the Department has provided training for more than 15,000 emergency response professionals nationwide, including more than 6,000 in Colorado and New Mexico.

The Department has been working for a number of years with the Western Governors' Association, the state of Colorado, and other states along DOE's transportation routes to prepare for the safe transportation of waste shipments to WIPP, including the RFETS shipments.

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 (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.

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International Conference Highlights the Use of Geologic Formations For Radioactive Waste Disposal

CARLSBAD, N.M., June 11, 1999 -- Representatives of 12 countries will be in Carlsbad next week for a conference on the behavior of radioactive materials in geologic formations. The information gathered could be used in developing safety criteria for radioactive waste disposal facilities throughout the world.

The GEOTRAP IV conference will take place June 14-17 at the Pecos River Village Conference Center. The event is hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development/Nuclear Energy Agency based in France, and Sandia National Laboratories.

This week's conference is an example of Carlsbad's emergence as a center of excellence in the research and development of geologic disposal methods, said Dr. In'es Triay, Manager of the Carlsbad Area Office.

This is the fourth of five workshops, each one held annually in a different country. Last year, the workshop took place in Barcelona, Spain.

Approximately 50 representatives of government agencies, private industry and universities are registered to attend this week's conference. Using the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) as an example of successful deep geologic nuclear waste disposal, participants will learn specifically about the ability and inability of radioactive materials to move through certain geologic formations. The conference includes a full-scale tour of WIPP.

In addition to the United States, countries represented at the conference include Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, the Republic of South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

\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. The facility began disposal operations on March 26, 1999.

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 radioactive elements.

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Westinghouse Awards Contract for Hospital Training

CARLSBAD, N.M., June 9, 1999 -- The Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division recently awarded a five-year contract to Radiation Management Consultants, Inc., of Philadelphia, Pa., to train hospital personnel in assessing and treating patients who may be contaminated with radioactive material.

Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

The training is designed specifically for the care of patients potentially contaminated during accidents involving shipments of radioactive transuranic waste to WIPP. The possibility of contamination from WIPP shipments is highly unlikely due to the extraordinary safety of the transportation system and the TRUPACT-II waste shipping containers.

The contract, valued at $1.2 million, includes training medical professionals who work in hospitals or provide emergency care along the WIPP transportation routes. The WIPP routes are pr imarily interstate highways passing through 30 states. To date, WIPP has received shipments of non-mixed transuranic waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory.

Students targeted for the training are primarily emergency room doctors, nurses and technicians. Other medical professionals who may attend the training are non-emergency room doctors, paramedics and nuclear medical technicians.

The objective is to teach students to properly receive and care for a patient who could be contaminated with radioactive material and to do so without posing risk to other care providers, the public and the hospital environment. The eight-hour course includes information about the effects of radiation or radioactive materials on the body's system, how to properly receive a potentially contaminated patient into a hospital, methods for controlling the suspected contamination, radiological protection of the medical staff and procedures for gaining DOE and state assistance.

The training also offers a resident program in which students will receive three days of in-depth training and hands-on practice, including the proper use of radiation detection instruments. This phase of training places the students in the most realistic scenarios and conditions possible to test their skills.

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. The facility began disposal operations on March 26, 1999.

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

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Westinghouse, WIPP Are First To Be Recertified Under Prestigious Voluntary Protection Program

CARLSBAD, N.M., June 4, 1999 -- Westinghouse Electric Company's Waste Isolation Division continued its rich history as one of the safest operating companies in the nation, becoming the first government contractor to receive recertification under the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP).

Westinghouse, the management and operating contractor for the DOE's Carlsbad Area Office at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), received the honor after undergoing an in-depth evaluation by a six-member DOE Headquarters VPP Recertification T eam.

"An outstanding safety and health program like that of Westinghouse and other workers at the WIPP isn't possible without involvement from employees and management, top to bottom," said Sanji Kanth, DOE Headquarters VPP Recertification Team Leader. "Employees at the WIPP are aware of their role in maintaining safe working conditions. They are also aware of the benefits of such a program."

The Waste Isolation Division originally received "Star" status under VPP on October 3, 1994. Westinghouse was the first federal contractor to be certified under VPP. In order to retain "Star" status, contractors are required to periodically recertify under the program.

Patterned after a similar program sponsored by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 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 VPP Recertification Team was made up of representatives from organizations such as DOE, labor and other government contractors. Last summer, the team interviewed about 100 employees, asking about their roles in the WIPP's environment, safety and health programs.

"We were very impressed with employee responses," said Kanth.

Some of the employee responses included:

  • "It's not the safety program that keeps us safe -- it is us taking care of each other."

  • "If I am concerned about safety, I can stop anyone's work -- even if it is (Westinghouse General Manger) Joe Epstein."

  • "WIPP is the safest place I've ever worked."

  • "Safety is our way of work. If you aren't safe, you don't work here."

Epstein explained that environment, safety and health are part of the organizational culture at the WIPP. "The entire site is committed to the safety, protection and well being of its personnel, the public and the environment," he said. "Safety is woven into every operation. It will not be separated. Success cannot be achieved in any other way."

Since the company began operating the WIPP for the DOE in 1985, Westinghouse has been honored often for its positive approach to protecting employee safety and health. Awards and recognition 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 11 consecutive years;

  • Outstanding Mine Safety and Health Administration inspection results;

  • Inspector comments lauding the plant as a \ldblquote 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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WIPP Emergency Response Personnel Begin Training in Georgia 

Carlsbad, N.M., May 10, 1999 - Emergency response instructors from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) are scheduled to train 800 emergency responders in the Atlanta, Ga., area over the next month.

The training comes at the request of the state of Georgia and in anticipation of future shipments from the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C. The Savannah River Site will send approximately 2,240 shipments of radioactive transuranic waste to the WIPP site, traveling on Interstate 20 from South Carolina through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

Emergency response professionals in the Greater Atlanta Area will attend a day-long First Responder course. The courses run from May 19 through June 15. Classes consist of 20-25 students.

"The whole purpose of this training is to prepare emergency responders to effectively function at a WIPP-related accident scene," said Lynn Eaton, Manager of Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division’s Institutional Programs. Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office at WIPP.

First responders are individuals who arrive at the scene of an automobile accident first. They include law enforcement personnel, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, tow truck operators, or state and U.S. Department of Transportation representatives.

WIPP first responder courses give students information about how to protect themselves, the public and the environment in the unlikely event of a transportation accident involving a transuranic waste shipment headed for WIPP.

Since January 1998, WIPP instructors have taught emergency response procedures to more than 1,700 emergency responders along Interstate 20. The I-20 corridor will ultimately carry WIPP shipments from Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, the Mound Plant in Ohio, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. At Pecos, Texas, WIPP trucks will transfer to U.S. 285 north to the WIPP site.

WIPP Emergency Response courses, offered through the DOE’s Carlsbad Area Office, are part of the States and Tribal Education Program (STEP). Since the inception of STEP in 1988, the DOE has trained more than 13,500 emergency response personnel in 17 states. WIPP shipments will eventually cross 30 states and 11 tribal lands.

In 1993 and again in 1997, the Federal 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 radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

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Emergency Response Professionals Attend Specialized Training in Carlsbad

CARLSBAD, N.M., May 6, 1999 – Twenty emergency response professionals from Colorado and one from Louisiana will be in Carlsbad May 11-12 to learn how to handle accidents involving radioactive and hazardous materials.

The course, titled "Train-The-Trainer: First Responder Radiological Transportation Emergency Course," is taught by members of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’s (WIPP) Emergency Responder Training Team. It provides emergency response professionals with the tools to teach colleagues First Responder and First Responder Refresher courses.

First responders are individuals who arrive at the scene of an automobile accident first. They include law enforcement personnel, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, tow truck operators, or state and U.S. Department of Transportation representatives.

WIPP first responder courses give students information about how to protect themselves, the public, and the environment in the unlikely event of a transportation accident involving a transuranic waste shipment headed for WIPP. In addition to classroom activities at the Pecos River Village Conference Center, the class will tour the WIPP site.

"Through this program, we empower emergency responders to teach colleagues about the WIPP project and the WIPP transportation system," said Lynn Eaton, Manager of Institutional Programs for the Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division. "We’ve learned that allowing emergency responders to `teach their own’ adds to the credibility of the training program."

The course, offered through the Department of Energy’s Carlsbad Area Office, is part of the States and Tribal Education Program (STEP).

Currently, more than 120 emergency responders in 17 states are qualified through the Train-the-Trainer Program to teach WIPP First Responder and First Responder Refresher courses. Students learn about material identification, regulations, response procedures, and personal protection.

Since the inception of STEP in 1988, the DOE has trained more than 13,500 emergency response personnel in 17 states. WIPP shipments will ultimately cross 30 states and 11 tribal lands.

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 radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

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WIPP Emergency Response Trainers Earn Hazardous Materials Certification

Carlsbad, N.M., May 3, 1999 -- Emergency response trainers at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) have added to their collection of teaching credentials.

Most recently, the prestigious California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI) certified WIPP emergency responder training team members Ron Macaluso, David Lewis and Roy Burkham as hazardous materials instructors.

The three WIPP instructors earned their CSTI certification following two-and-a-half days of hazardous materials training at Butte College in Oroville, Calif. Emergency responder training team leader Jim Eastham earned his certification through the institute in 1992.

"This certification further validates the extensive knowledge of our WIPP emergency response instructors," said Lynn Eaton, manager of Institutional Programs for the Westinghouse Waste Isolation Division. Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carlsbad Area Office at WIPP.

The certification demonstrates the WIPP training team is qualified to teach hazardous materials courses, which include safety procedures responders should use at incidents involving hazardous materials. The most common incidents are automobile accidents resulting in fuel spills.

Hazardous materials courses also provide information about how to isolate an area where hazardous materials are found, and notification of the proper authorities.

Over the last decade, WIPP emergency response instructors have trained about 13,500 emergency responders in 13 states through the States and Tribal Education Program. Courses include hazardous materials training, first responder training, command and control procedures for incidents, and medical management for medical personnel.

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE’s cleanup effort, is the world’s first licensed underground repository designed to permanently dispose of defense-generated transuranic 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 such items contaminated with radioactive elements.

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INEEL Shipment Arrives Safely At Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

Carlsbad, N.M., April 28, 1999 - Energy Secretary Bill Richardson today announced that the first shipment of defense-generated transuranic radioactive waste from the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) arrived safely at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

The shipment, which consisted of 42 drums of non-mixed waste, left the Idaho site at 7 a.m. Tuesday, April 27, and arrived at the WIPP today at 7:25 p.m.

This first INEEL shipment is an important milestone for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the state of Idaho. In 1995, DOE and the U.S. Navy entered into an agreement with the state of Idaho in order to settle a lawsuit to prevent shipment of spent nuclear fuel to INEEL for storage. As part of the agreement allowing the Energy Department to continue to ship the spent fuel to INEEL, DOE agreed to begin shipments of transuranic waste from Idaho by the end of April 1999.

"With this shipment, we’ve shown the Department is committed to meeting its obligations to the state of Idaho," said Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. "Further, it shows to the American people that we are making real progress toward cleanup of our sites and permanently disposing of the nation’s radioactive waste."

During the 1,400-mile trip, the INEEL shipment passed through Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. The trip took approximately 36 hours, including the time required for WIPP drivers to stop and inspect the truck every 100 miles, or every two hours. The inspection stops are performed in accordance with safety protocols developed by DOE and the Western Governors’ Association.

Several years ago, DOE began working with the Western Governors’ Association, and states and tribes along the WIPP transportation routes to prepare for WIPP shipments. Since 1988, more than 13,000 emergency response professionals in 13 states through which WIPP shipments will pass have received emergency preparedness training. As recently as last week, WIPP emergency response trainers taught an eight-hour first responder course to members of the Shoshone-Bannock tribes in southeastern Idaho.

WIPP, a cornerstone of DOE’s cleanup effort, is designed to permanently dispose of defense-generated transuranic 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 radioactive elements.

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WIPP Emergency Response Instructors Train Idaho Tribal Members in Preparation for Waste Shipments

Carlsbad, N.M., April 21, 1999 - Emergency response instructors from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) will teach members of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe of southeastern Idaho Saturday how to respond to highway accidents involving WIPP shipments.

The training, conducted by members of WIPP’s States and Tribal Education Program (STEP), is being held at the request of the tribe. The training is in preparation for future shipments of radioactive transuranic waste from the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL). These future shipments will travel through Shoshone-Bannock lands.

"We always look forward to expanding our emergency response network," said Lynn Eaton, manager of Westinghouse Electric Company’s Institutional Programs. Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor for DOE’s Carlsbad Area Office at WIPP.

Over the past 10 years, WIPP emergency response trainers have conducted a variety of courses in Idaho including First Responder, Medical Management, and Command and Control courses.

The courses are part of WIPP’s States and Tribal Education Program (STEP). Under STEP, emergency response instructors provide training along the transportation corridors through which WIPP shipments travel.

The Idaho leg of the WIPP route is about 100 miles, from INEEL in southeastern Idaho to the Utah border.

Saturday’s course is an eight-hour class designed for individuals likely to arrive first at the scene of any accident involving a WIPP truck. This WIPP-specific training is intended to enhance existing emergency response programs to include transuranic waste and radiological materials response capabilities. First responders are usually law enforcement personnel, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, or others performing as a part of a community emergency response system.

Since 1988, nearly 800 Idahoans have attended WIPP emergency response courses. Of the total, 358 have attended first responder courses, followed by 163 in the command and control courses, and 98 in the medical management training. STEP instructors have trained more than 13,000 emergency response personnel in 11 states.

WIPP, a cornerstone of DOE’s cleanup effort, is the world’s first licensed underground repository designed to permanently dispose of defense-generated transuranic 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 radioactive elements.

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Energy Secretary Bill Richardson Lauds WIPP’s Opening As Cornerstone of DOE’s Cold War Cleanup Effort

CARLSBAD, N.M., April 17, 1999 – Amid cheers of celebration, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Bill Richardson today described the opening of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) as "real progress" in the DOE’s effort to begin cleaning up the legacy waste left from the Cold War.

"After years of review by EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) and other independent organizations and more than 20 years of solid engineering and sound science, we are taking a major step forward in meeting our national commitment to a safe and healthy environment," said Richardson. "WIPP is the cornerstone of that effort."

"My record on WIPP is clear -- I have always insisted this facility should be opened only if scientific studies found it to be a safe and suitable repository for transuranic wastes. I believe this is a world-class facility, and the people who have worked on it are world class. After more than 25 years of road blocks, delays and hiccups, the WIPP is a success story."

Richardson, along with a variety of local, national and international dignitaries, was on hand to officially open the WIPP, the world’s first underground repository for defense-generated transuranic waste. Among those in attendance were members of New Mexico’s Congressional Delegation — U.S. Representative Joe Skeen, U.S. Senator Pete Domenici and U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman.

"This is truly a historic moment -- for the Department of Energy and the nation," said Richardson. "Opening the WIPP represents the beginning of fulfilling the long-overdue promise to all Americans to begin closing the circle on the splitting of the atom.

"I want to thank each and every one of the employees who have worked on this project, the stakeholders who insisted that WIPP be safe before it opened, and all the independent review agencies who diligently double checked our work. I’d also like to thank the residents of Carlsbad, all the other surrounding communities, and the state of New Mexico. You have helped the Department of Energy. Without you, none of this would be possible."

Almost one month ago, on March 22, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., cleared the last obstacle that prevented the DOE from opening the WIPP for waste disposal operations. The first shipment of waste arrived on March 26 from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Since that time, two additional shipments of waste have traveled from LANL to WIPP.

During the WIPP Grand Opening, New Mexico Congressman Joe Skeen and U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Pete Domenici spoke. Carlsbad Mayor Gary Perkowski also provided words of congratulations.

The four-hour event included guided tours of surface facilities, photographic sessions for the news media and public, and interviews with early Carlsbad leaders who helped bring the WIPP to southeastern New Mexico.

Transuranic waste began accumulating in the early 1940s with the beginning of the nation’s nuclear weapons program. A by-product of the program, this waste remains radioactive for thousands of years.

As early as the 1950s, the National Academy of Sciences recommended disposal of radioactive waste in stable geologic formations, such as deep salt beds. Scientists searched for an appropriate site during the 1960s, testing the area of southeastern New Mexico in the 1970s.

Congress authorized the WIPP in 1979. DOE completed construction of the facility in the late 1980s.

Originally scheduled to begin receiving waste in 1988, the WIPP’s opening was delayed because of several lawsuits and the lack of a specific regulatory framework. That changed in 1992 when Congress named the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as the WIPP’s primary regulator.

As a U.S. congressman in 1992, Richardson — along with Skeen, Domenici and Bingaman — was instrumental in getting the 1992 WIPP Land Withdrawal Act passed. This effort set forth the regulatory framework for the WIPP, further ensuring protection of public health and the environment.

The EPA certified in May 1998 that the DOE met all applicable federal standards for disposing of radioactive waste at the WIPP.

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE’s cleanup effort, is the world’s first licensed underground repository designed to permanently dispose of defense-generated transuranic 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 radioactive elements.

PREPARED REMARKS FOR U.S. SECRETARY OF ENERGY BILL RICHARDSON

WIPP OPENING CEREMONIES - WIPP PROJECT, NEW MEXICO

APRIL 17, 1999

Good morning, and thank you, Keith (Klein), and all who have joined us today. This is truly an historic day for the United States Department of Energy, my home state of New Mexico, and, indeed, for the safety and security of our entire nation.

The opening of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant helps America close the circle on the long legacy of the Cold War. Our nuclear stockpile -- which the Energy Department continues to maintain -- enabled us to stand toe-to-toe with other nations that challenged our leadership. Well, we answered those challenges. With New Mexico as our witness, we have truly come full circle: from generating transuranic waste to final disposal – from Los Alamos to WIPP.

With this facility, the Department of Energy will be able to manage transuranic waste in a safe and secure facility, helping us protect human health and the environment. There is no question in my mind that WIPP, the trucks that transport the waste -- like this one -- and our transportation routes are exceedingly safe.

We are -- and will continue to be -- vigilant on safety. I think that we’ve shown that in our initial shipments to WIPP. On our first two shipments, we had questionable weather on our scheduled day of shipment. So what did we do? We didn’t ship until the weather improved and we were 100 percent confident in the safety and security of the transportation. And our third shipment, which arrived on Thursday, did so without incident.

We will take no chances. We will adhere to these guidelines throughout the extent of this operation – on that you have my word.

Our prudence on safety has resulted in WIPP reaching demanding safety goals. In May of last year, WIPP was certified by the Environmental Protection Agency as exceeding their rigorous standards for disposal of radioactive waste. These are the very standards that, as a Member of Congress, I insisted be imposed on WIPP by EPA, an independent regulator.

And we have two other notable endorsements: from the National Academy of Sciences and the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. But we’re not resting on endorsements. We will work even harder to ensure that we operate WIPP in a manner that realizes the full extent of its capability to be a safe facility.

Today, I want to call your attention to several of the safety initiatives we are setting in motion to ensure WIPP will operate as a world class safety facility:

First: We have put an Integrated Safety Management System in place – fully implemented 18 months ahead of my September 2000 goal for all Department of Energy sites. And

Second: We have incorporated new safety performance indicators into the Westinghouse contract – so efficiency and efficacy can be more comprehensively managed.

We proved the efficacy of these and all our safety initiatives last month, when WIPP passed the readiness review for receipt of waste with flying colors.

We’re able to open WIPP thanks to perseverance through tough times -- when it appeared that WIPP would never open. We’ve seen mixed signals from stakeholders and technical experts alike on how to best get this done. Over two decades, stopgap solutions and moving deadlines became commonplace.

Let this day show the nation and the world that this Department is moving to get things done for the betterment of America. To the countless numbers of people in New Mexico and across the country who helped to make this a reality, I want to say: thank you, and congratulations. This has been a top objective for a number of Energy Secretaries, and I am privileged to be the one here to cut this ribbon.

I want to congratulate Congressman Joe Skeen and Senators Domenici and Bingaman, all of whom worked long and hard to get this done in the right way.

I also want to tell you that the road we all traveled on to get here today will, from this day forward, bear the name of another man who put his considerable muscle and conviction into getting WIPP open: "Mr. Carlsbad," the late State Senator Lou Whitlock.

Without Lou’s work, we wouldn’t be here today. Over twenty years ago, Lou saw the opportunity for bringing this project – and the jobs, technologies, and opportunities for economic development that come with it – to New Mexico. He brought local leaders together and forged consensus, pushing WIPP toward the reality we are celebrating today.

For his perseverance -- and for the long road he walked in making WIPP a reality, I today am formally renaming the North Access Road as "Louis Whitlock Road."

So I now announce that the United States Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is open for business -- the business of protecting human health and the environment. This is the kind of red tape I take much pleasure cutting into.

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Secretary Richardson Announces Intent to Name Dr. Inès Triay as Manager of the Carlsbad Area Office

U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said today he plans to name Dr. Inès Triay as the new Manager of the Department of Energy's (DOE) Carlsbad Area Office. She is expected to be in her new position by mid-May.

"Inés Triay's considerable experience in transuranic waste characterization, and treatment, and experience in environmental matters will be an excellent asset to the mission of the Carlsbad Area Office," said Secretary Richardson. "I also want to express my appreciation to Keith Klein, who has been serving as the Acting Manager, for his contributions and excellent work in getting the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant successfully opened and receiving the first shipment of transuranic waste." Klein has been named the new Manager for the Richland Operations Office.

In her new position, Dr. Triay will be responsible for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), the nation's only deep geological repository for the disposal of transuranic waste, located in southeastern New Mexico. She will be dealing extensively with a wide range of regulatory, legal, institutional and technical issues associated with the continued safe operation of WIPP. WIPP employs more than 700 people under contract to operate and maintain the facility.

Dr. Triay has been the Group Leader of the Environmental Science and Waste Technology Group at the Los Alamos National Laboratory since October 1994. She is responsible for multidisciplinary research on decontamination, on transuranic waste characterization and treatment, on environmental chemistry, on contaminant transport and remediation, and on isotope chemistry for environmental and proliferation issues. From October 1997 to January 1998, she was the Acting Deputy Division Director of the Chemical Science and Technology Division where she co-directed one of the largest public chemistry research organizations in the United States. Research was conducted in areas such as environmental chemistry, nuclear chemistry, biochemistry, reaction chemistry and real-time sensor development. Since 1985, Dr. Triay has held various positions with the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

She is a graduate of the University of Miami, where she received a bachelor's degree in chemistry and a doctorate degree in physical chemistry.

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DOE Announces First Shipment of Transuranic Waste From INEEL to WIPP on April 27, 1999

April 13, 1999 –- The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will ship transuranic radioactive waste from the Department's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) to its Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) beginning April 27, 1999.

In 1995, DOE and the U.S. Navy entered into an agreement with the state of Idaho in order to settle a lawsuit to prevent shipment of spent nuclear fuel to the INEEL for storage. As part of the agreement that allowed the Department to continue to ship the spent fuel to the INEEL, DOE agreed to begin the shipments of transuranic waste from Idaho by the end of April 1999.

The first shipment from INEEL will contain 42 drums (each drum holds 55-gallons of waste) of non-mixed transuranic waste in three TRUPACT-II shipping containers. On its way to WIPP, the INEEL shipment will travel through the states of Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico. The Department has been working for a number of years with the Western Governors Association (WGA) and the states along DOE's transportation routes in preparation for waste shipments to WIPP, including the Idaho shipments.

The 1400-mile trip will take approximately 32 hours and will be monitored in real time by TRANSCOM, a computerized tracking system.

INEEL will eventually send about 205,000 drum equivalents, or 4,900 shipments, of transuranic waste to the WIPP between now and the end of 2018. A timeline for shipments beyond the first one has not yet been determined.

WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE's cleanup effort, is the world’s first underground repository designed to permanently dispose of defense-generated transuranic 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 radioactive elements.

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 World's First Underground Waste Repository Begins Operations

First Shipment of Transuranic Radioactive Waste Arrives at WIPP

CARLSBAD, N.M., March 26, 1999 -- Energy Secretary Bill Richardson today announced that the first shipment of defense-generated transuranic radioactive waste arrived safely at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). Hundreds of people were on hand to watch this important milestone in the Energy Department's work to permanently dispose of defense-generated transuranic waste left from the research and production of nuclear weapons.

The shipment from the DOE's Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), in New Mexico, arrived at WIPP at approximately 4 a.m. (MST) today. LANL is one of more than 20 DOE sites nationwide where transuranic waste is temporarily stored.

This is truly a historic moment -- for the Department of Energy and the nation," said Secretary Richardson. "This shipment to WIPP represents the beginning of fulfilling the long-overdue promise to all Americans to safely clean up the nation's Cold War legacy of nuclear waste and protect the generations to come."

The first waste shipment left LANL at 7:49 p.m. (MST) Thursday. The truck went around Santa Fe via a relief route built with funds from the DOE. The shipment then traveled south on US 285 to Carlsbad, NM. From Carlsbad, the truck headed east on US 62/180 to the WIPP site.

Waste handling technicians will begin unloading the first of an estimated 17 shipments of transuranic waste that DOE will send from LANL to the WIPP.

Transuranic waste -- clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues, and other disposable items contaminated with radioactive elements, mostly plutonium -- began accumulating in the 1940s with the beginning of the nation's nuclear weapons program. A byproduct of the nuclear weapons production, this waste remains radioactive for thousands of years.

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. Congress authorized construction of the WIPP in 1979. DOE completed construction of the facility in the late 1980s.

Originally scheduled to begin receiving waste in 1988, the WIPP's opening was delayed because of several lawsuits and the lack of a specific regulatory framework. That changed in 1992 when Congress named the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as the WIPP's primary regulator.

The EPA certified in May 1998 that the WIPP meets all applicable federal standards for disposal of transuranic waste.

The WIPP, a cornerstone of the DOE's cleanup effort, is the world's first underground repository to permanently dispose of defense-generated transuranic 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.

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Statement by Energy Secretary Richardson On Ruling by U.S. District Judge John Garrett Penn

March 22, 1999 -- Judge Penn’s decision has cleared the way for us to open the nation’s first underground repository for radioactive waste. This week, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) will begin disposal of radioactive transuranic waste from the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It is our intention to ship the first load of waste from Los Alamos to WIPP on Thursday, March 25.

The judge’s ruling states "the court injunction entered in 1992 does not prevent the shipment of TA-55-43, Lot No. 01 waste to WIPP." The court concluded that this waste, which resides in temporary storage at Los Alamos National Laboratory, "is not hazardous under RCRA [Resource Conservation and Recovery Act], so...DOE may make the shipment."

This is indeed historic -- for DOE and the nation. We are making formal notifications to the appropriate parties that non-mixed waste will be shipped from Los Alamos National Laboratory to WIPP starting this week.

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WIPP Mine Rescue Team Members Offer Life-Saving Training to Mexico Mining Communities

CARLSBAD, N.M., March 16, 1999 - Members of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) mine rescue team recently traveled to Guanajuato, Mexico, to help mine rescuers there improve the skills they may one day need to save the lives of their colleagues.

This is the third year the WIPP has joined the New Mexico State Mine Inspector’s Office and the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration in a contest to challenge the skills of mine rescue teams in Mexico. Eleven teams, comprising about 150 mine workers, turned out for the national contest held about 150 miles north of Mexico City. The mine workers represent primarily gold and silver and some zinc mines in Mexico.

"We depend on the expertise that the WIPP people have," said New Mexico Mine Inspector Gilbert Miera. "WIPP's contribution to international relations and safety in the mining industry is immense."

WIPP Mine Rescue Coordinator Buddy Webb and mine rescue team members Mike Proctor, Richard West, Mitch Carter, Joe Franco and Joe Baca all made the trip to Mexico.

"We were able," said Webb, "to give these emergency response personnel training that will advance their program and knock years off their learning curve."

For the contest, the WIPP team designed a mock mining disaster and judged the competition. The disaster consisted of an underground mine fire. An energized electrical cable in ankle-deep water added further risk to rescue attempts.

WIPP team members also participated in the "benchman’s" contest by setting up and judging the contest. Each team has a benchman who is charged with quickly and thoroughly inspecting each rescue worker’s self-contained breathing apparatus. For the contest, "bugs" (or defects) are intentionally placed in the apparatus for the benchman to find and repair.

The self-contained breathing apparatus provides four hours of protection from carbon monoxide gas produced by fire. In a real disaster, the apparatus is inspected before rescue personnel are allowed to respond to a mine disaster. The test is called the benchman’s competition because the work is done while the apparatus sits on a bench.

The Guanajuato Las Torres team won the contest and will travel to Carlsbad in mid-April for the annual Southwest Regional Mine Rescue Competition.

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 radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.+

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WIPP Personnel Plan Activities for National Engineers Week

CARLSBAD, N.M., February 17, 1999 -- Engineers associated with the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) will be on a mission next week — to encourage students to pursue careers in engineering, mathematics, and science.

The information blitz is in observance of National Engineers Week, February 21-26. Throughout the week, 16 engineers from Westinghouse Electric Company’s Waste Isolation Division will volunteer their time to make presentations at 11 area high schools and colleges to inform and educate students about the engineering profession.

"Scientists and engineers are critical to the success of the WIPP project, as well as the future of our country," said Joe Epstein, General Manager of the Waste Isolation Division. "It is our hope that National Engineers Week activities will help students and the public learn how these disciplines benefit society."

Westinghouse engineers will be at high schools in Carlsbad, Hobbs, Loving, Lovington, Roswell, Artesia, Hagerman, Dexter and Jal. Presentations are also scheduled at the Carlsbad branch of New Mexico State University.

Westinghouse is also sponsoring a presentation in Carlsbad by Ben Montoya, President and Chief Executive Officer for the Public Service Company of New Mexico. Montoya’s talk on "Turning Ideas Into Reality" is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. February 25 at the Pecos River Village Carousel, 701 Muscatel. The public is invited and refreshments will be served.

A coalition of engineering societies, government agencies, and major corporations, representing thousands of engineers, sponsors National Engineers Week.

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 DOE’s Carlsbad Area Office at the WIPP.

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

Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east Carlsbad, project 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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Emergency Response Professionals Attend Specialized Training in Carlsbad

CARLSBAD, N.M., February 10, 1999 – Twenty-seven emergency response professionals from seven states are in Carlsbad this week to learn how to handle accidents involving radioactive or hazardous materials.

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

"Conducting this course enables us to expand our pool of trainers across the country," said Lynn Eaton, manager of Institutional Programs for Westinghouse Electric Company’s Waste Isolation Division. Westinghouse is the management and operating contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) at the WIPP.

"Bringing instructors to the WIPP also allows them to see, firsthand, the redundant safety systems that are in place," Eaton added.

The course, offered through the DOE’s Carlsbad Area Office, is taught by instructors from Westinghouse. The course is part of the Carlsbad Area Office’s States and Tribal Education Program (STEP).

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. Train-the-Trainer students are instructed in material identification, regulations, response procedures, and personal protection.

Since the inception of STEP in 1988, the DOE has trained more than 13,000 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 radioactive elements, mostly plutonium.

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Full Access Tours Remain Available at WIPP

CARLSBAD, N.M., February 5, 1999 -- Full access tours of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) remain available for reporters and the public. Project facilities include the waste handling building and disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation almost one-half mile underground.

In May 1998, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency certified that the WIPP meets all applicable federal nuclear waste disposal standards. Transuranic radioactive waste disposal activities are expected to begin later this year.

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

To schedule a tour, call 1-800-336-WIPP (9477). Please schedule tours 2-4 weeks in advance of the visit.

 

 


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