skip to main content

SciTech ConnectSciTech Connect

Title: WASTE ISOLATION PILOT PLANT (WIPP): THE NATIONS' SOLUTION TO NUCLEAR WASTE STORAGE AND DISPOSAL ISSUES

In the southeastern portion of my home state of New Mexico lies the Chihuahauan desert, where a transuranic (TRU), underground disposal site known as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) occupies 16 square miles. Full operation status began in March 1999, the year I graduated from Los Alamos High School, in Los Alamos, NM, the birthplace of the atomic bomb and one of the nation’s main TRU waste generator sites. During the time of its development and until recently, I did not have a full grasp on the role Los Alamos was playing in regards to WIPP. WIPP is used to store and dispose of TRU waste that has been generated since the 1940s because of nuclear weapons research and testing operations that have occurred in Los Alamos, NM and at other sites throughout the United States (U.S.). TRU waste consists of items that are contaminated with artificial, man-made radioactive elements that have atomic numbers greater than uranium, or are trans-uranic, on the periodic table of elements and it has longevity characteristics that may be hazardous to human health and the environment. Therefore, WIPP has underground rooms that have been carved out of 2,000 square foot thick salt formations approximatelymore » 2,150 feet underground so that the TRU waste can be isolated and disposed of. WIPP has operated safely and successfully until this year, when two unrelated events occurred in February 2014. With these events, the safety precautions and measures that have been operating at WIPP for the last 15 years are being revised and improved to ensure that other such events do not occur again.« less
Authors:
 [1]
  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
1143955
Report Number(s):
LA-UR-14-25415
DOE Contract Number:
AC52-06NA25396
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 07 ISOTOPE AND RADIATION SOURCES; 12 MANAGEMENT OF RADIOACTIVE AND NON-RADIOACTIVE WASTES FROM NUCLEAR FACILITIES; 38 RADIATION CHEMISTRY, RADIOCHEMISTRY, AND NUCLEAR CHEMISTRY; 61 RADIATION PROTECTION AND DOSIMETRY RADIATION; WIPP; WASTE