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Open Letter to the Nuclear and Particle Physics Research Community

From: Ines Triay, Manager of DOE's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, The WIPP site in Carlsbad, NM
Subject: Invitation to the June 12 Meeting on WIPP as the Next Generation US National Underground Research Facility
Date: Early Spring, 2000

In the closing days of the 20th century, DOE's Office of Science and the National Science Foundation suggested that DOE's Carlsbad Area Office sponsor a workshop to explore the potential need and use of the WIPP underground as a next generation laboratory for conducting nuclear and particle astrophysics (and other basic science research).  Over the last few months, DOE brought together an organizing commitee made up of a cross section of active researchers who have planned an aggressive workshop agenda to do just that. This message is an invitation to the entire research community to participate in that workshop, planned for June 12-14, 2000.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) operates the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico as the nation's first deep geologic repository for permanent disposal of defense-related transuranic waste. Owned and operated by DOE's Office of Environmental Management, WIPP represents one of only a few choices open to the research community for siting experiments that require shielding from cosmic rays greater than about 2000 m.w.e.  With the recent opening of the WIPP underground for disposal operations, DOE has recognized the possibility of making the facility available to the physics community for other purposes.

With an estimated 35-year operating lifetime and with the attractive unique attributes of a salt mine with very low primordial background radiation, the use of WIPP by the nuclear and particle physics community may be an efficient way to leverage the costs already borne by the nation's taxpayer and lower the cost of conducting research in an underground setting.

It is our hope that this workshop will paint a clear path over which the physics community and WIPP may travel to provide a new and unique opportunity for the next generation of underground physics research in coming years.  On behalf of the workshop organizing commitee, please join us in Carlsbad in June, and come prepared to help DOE make this exciting possibility a reality.

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Ines Triay, Ph.D.
Carlsbad Area Office Manager

PS:    Carlsbad is a small town and to make sure we have suitable arrangements made for such a large event, please register by Friday, May 19 (non-US citizens by April 26).