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Repository Science at WIPP

WIPP is the World's First, Fully Licensed, Deep Geological,
Nuclear Waste Repository

In the U.S., nuclear weapons production and commercial nuclear power plants have generated large quantities of radioactive materials. Providing for safe, secure, and transparent disposal of these radioactive materials promotes implementation of some arms reduction processes, reduces proliferation potential, and develops public confidence in continued use of nuclear power. It is widely accepted that the safest and most secure method for disposal of radioactive materials is interment in geological repositories.  As the world's first fully licensed deep geologic repository for transuranic waste, WIPP can serve as a test bed for enhancing the concepts and design of future geological repositories for other permanent disposal programs in two major areas:

Repository Performance

As a licensed repository, WIPP conducts an experimental program to address specific scientific/technical issues related to waste characterization, repository performance, enhanced operations and the five year re-certification cycle mandated by the 40CFR194 standard, which also provides for modification of certification. Modifications may be by additional planned or unplanned changes to the operational, regulatory and technical bases originally certified by U.S. EPA. Many planned changes being considered will require technical underpinning, which may include both radiological (actinide) and stable element chemistry experimental data collection.


Transparency is a term used to describe a combination of technologies and processes that provide information to outside parties for independent assessments of nuclear material control.  The concept of transparency is a tool for developing confidence and acceptance of geologic disposal.  Transparency applies to all aspects of a geologic repository system: site selection, characterization, transportation systems, operations, and materials control.

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