The 12,000th shipment of transuranic waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant arrives at the facility from EM’s Idaho Site late Nov. 9. Courtesy photo
CARLSBAD ―EM’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) recently received its 12,000th shipment of transuranic (TRU) waste for disposal since opening in 1999.
“We are all very proud of receiving the 12,000th shipment of transuranic waste and contributing to the Department’s cleanup mission.” said Todd Shrader, manager of the Carlsbad Field Office.
Since the underground repository’s opening, WIPP drivers have safely traveled more than 14 million miles with shipments — equivalent to about 30 roundtrips to the moon without a serious accident or injury — to clean up 22 TRU waste sites around the nation.
According to Bruce Covert, president and project manager for Nuclear Waste Partnership, WIPP’s management and operations contractor, these milestones would not be possible if not for the dedicated employees in Carlsbad and TRU waste generator sites around the country.
“Our employees are among the best of the best who are proud to be part of a project that is benefitting the nation,” Covert said. “It takes the entire WIPP team, from the waste handlers, to the drivers who get the shipments here safely, to the employees at the generator sites who package, characterize, and certify TRU waste.”
Located in southeast New Mexico about 26 miles from Carlsbad, WIPP 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 is the nation’s only repository for the disposal of TRU waste. Waste from DOE sites around the country is sent to WIPP for permanent disposal. Disposal of TRU waste is critical to the cleanup of Cold War nuclear production sites.