WIPP Update

May 28, 2015

WIPP Successfully Completes ISO 14001 Certification

The WIPP site successfully demonstrated to independent auditors that the WIPP Environmental Management System (EMS) meets all the requirements of the ISO 14001 standard.  After a recent three days of reviewing the 17 elements of ISO 14001, the auditors concluded the EMS program and procedures properly manage the environmental aspects and impacts of WIPP operations to meet the standard’s requirements.  As a result, the certification of the WIPP EMS will continue for three years.

ISO 14001 is an international standard for the development of effective environmental management systems that could have a direct impact on the environment.  The practices and goals that are managed through the EMS include: energy efficiency, reduction in greenhouse gases, use of renewable energy, reduced water consumption intensity, acquisition of green products and services, pollution prevention (P2) (cost-effective waste prevention, recycling, diversion of solid wastes), sustainable design/high performance buildings, reduction in petroleum consumption, and electronics stewardship (based on DOE Order 436.1, Departmental Sustainability).

The employees of WIPP are dedicated to protecting human health and the environment and continue to seek ways to improve on current processes and procedures.

Next WIPP Town Hall Meeting Scheduled June 4

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, June 4 at 5:30 p.m. Location: Carlsbad City Council Chambers, 101 N. Halagueno Street.  Live streaming of the meeting can be seen at http://new.livestream.com/rrv/.

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 (TAT) Report

Technical Assessment Team (TAT) Report

Supporting Documents

Supporting documents for the AIB and TAT reports

About WIPP

The nation's only deep geologic repository for nuclear waste

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is a deep geologic repository for permanent disposal of a specific type of waste that is the byproduct of the nation's nuclear defense program.

CH and RH WasteWIPP is the nation's only repository for the disposal of nuclear waste known as transuranic, or TRU, waste. It consists of clothing, tools, rags, residues, debris, soil and other items contaminated with small amounts of plutonium and other man-made radioactive elements. Disposal of transuranic waste is critical to the cleanup of Cold War nuclear production sites. Waste from DOE sites around the country is sent to WIPP for permanent disposal.

TRU waste is categorized as "contact-handled" or "remote-handled" based on the amount of radiation dose measured at the surface of the waste container. Contact-handled waste has a radiation dose rate not greater than 200 millirem (mrem) per hour, while remote-handled waste can have a dose rate up to 1,000 rem per hour. About 96 percent of the waste to be disposed at WIPP is contact-handled.

TRU waste is long-lived and has to be isolated to protect public health and the environment. Deep geologic disposal in salt beds was chosen because the salt is free of flowing water, easily mined, impermeable and geologically stable. Salt rock also naturally seals fractures and closes openings.

The WIPP site, located in southeast New Mexico about 26 miles from Carlsbad, was constructed in the 1980s for disposal of defense-generated TRU waste. The underground repository is carved out of a 2,000-foot-thick salt bed formed 250 million years ago. TRU waste is disposed of 2,150-feet underground in rooms mined from the salt bed.

WIPP has been disposing of legacy TRU waste since 1999, cleaning up 22 generator sites nationwide.