The supplemental ventilation system installed in the air intake drift
WIPP's new hybrid (diesel/electric) bolter in the underground mine
A drill being run at WIPP's new Emergency Operations Center
Emergency response vehicles stationed in the WIPP underground

WIPP Update

October 8, 2015

WIPP’s Mine Rescue Team Wins Top Honors at National Competition

Mine rescue team members navagate a mineThe Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) Blue Mine Rescue team competed in the Missouri Regional Underground Mine Rescue Competition last week bringing home top honors in the field and first aid competitions. They also took the “Best Out of State” and the Governor’s traveling trophy. The competition included 22 nationally ranked mine rescue teams representing Nevada, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Mississippi.

WIPP has two mine rescue teams, designated as the Blue and Red teams. In an underground facility like WIPP, rescue teams must be prepared to respond to underground emergencies that require locating individuals as well as treatment and extraction. During the Feburay 5, 2014 salt truck fire, mine rescue team members were the first to re-enter the WIPP underground, after the initial evacuation. The teams are made up of volunteers who regularly compete at various national competitions to enhance their mine rescue skills.

This year’s annual competition in Missouri included written exams to test member’s knowledge and field first aid and technician competitions to test hands-on skills in a realistic mine rescue environment. The competition was held in actual mines near Rolla, home of the Missouri School of Mines. Last year the WIPP Red Mine Rescue team competed against 41 teams from across the country to win the 2014 Metal Non-Metal National Mine Rescue Competition.

Members of the WIPP Blue Team include Gary Kessler (Captain), Jim Pearce (First aid) Nico Dominguez (Co-Captain), Ty Zimmerly (Map Man), Manny Marquez (alternate), Lance Turnbow (fresh air base), Heath Fowler (Gas Man), Mathew Ridgway and Team Trainer Richard West.  The team’s performance supports the Department’s continued commitment to improve WIPP’s underground emergency preparedness capabilities.

Photo caption: During the field competition, WIPP mine rescue team members are evaluated as they navigate an underground mine.

Next WIPP Town Hall Meeting Scheduled October 29

The City of Carlsbad and DOE will co-host its Town Hall meeting featuring updates on WIPP recovery activities. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, October 29 at 5:30 p.m. Location: Carlsbad City Council Chambers, 101 N. Halagueno Street.  Live streaming of the meeting can be seen at

Reports and Plans


AIB Phase II Report on the February 14 Radiological Event

AIB Phase II Investigation Summary Slides


AIB Investigation Report on the February 5 Fire

AIB Investigation Summary Slides

AIB Phase I Report on the February 14 Radiological Event

AIB Phase I Investigation Summary Slides

Office of Environmental Management Corrective Action Plan for Fire Event

Office of Environmental Management Corrective Action Plan for the Radiological Event

CBFO Corrective Action Plan for the Fire and Radiological Events

NWP Corrective Action Plan for the Fire and Radiological Events

Technical Assessment Team Report

Supporting Documents

Supporting documents for the AIB and TAT reports

Did you know?

WIPP has made significant progress in its recovery efforts

On September 30, 2014, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) Recovery Plan was issued. It outlines the necessary steps to resume limited waste disposal operations in the first quarter of calendar year 2016. 

Several of the steps have been completed and WIPP is making good progress in its recovery efforts.

For more information about the WIPP Recovery Plan, see the Plans and Reports page.