Hard hat icons, representing dozens of workers in the WIPP underground, appear on one of the tracking monitors located at the WIPP facility. The hats actually move in real time as WIPP employees travel throughout the underground facility. Courtesy/WIPP
A new underground Wireless Notification and Tracking System (WNTS) has been installed at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) that allows for two-way communication for both talk and text, audible and flashing alarms and allows personnel to immediately signal the Central Monitoring Room (CMR) in the event of an emergency.
It also provides real-time tracking of all personnel entering the WIPP underground.
“I’m incredibly proud of this accomplishment,” said Phil Breidenbach, Nuclear Waste Partnership President and Project Manager. “We have done many things to improve safety in the WIPP underground but none are more important or impactful than this system.”
The wireless system works with radios, which look like a walkie-talkie, that are clipped to each employee’s belt. In addition to providing two-way communication between the underground and the surface, the radios are equipped with an emergency alert button.
If an employee is in trouble or sees an emergency situation, they push the button, which activates an emergency alert that overrides all other communication. It also signals an alarm on three separate monitors, including one in the CMR, and identifies the employee’s location in the underground.
Monitors constantly update in real-time to show the location of each individual employee. Training is currently on going and the system will be implemented over the next few weeks. The WNTS represents another improvement that ensures additional safety and accountability for all personnel entering the WIPP underground.
Next WIPP Town Hall Meeting April 7
The City of Carlsbad and DOE will co-host its Town Hall meeting featuring updates on WIPP recovery activities. The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7 in the Carlsbad City Council Chambers, 101 N. Halagueno St. Live streaming of the meeting can be seen here.