In accordance with Mine Safety and Health Administration requirements, WIPP employees continue to perform inspections of the mine shafts.
Shaft inspections are required on a weekly basis and prior to allowing personnel to ride the conveyances, or elevators, into the underground facility. Currently, both the Salt Handling and Air Intake Shafts are inspected every Monday. Once the Waste Shaft is returned to service it will be added to the weekly inspection schedule.
In addition to the weekly inspections, crews also perform checks of the equipment on a daily basis to ensure the continued safety of personnel being transported to the underground facility.
During the inspection process, workers position themselves on the conveyance and slowly descend into the underground mine. During the descent, steel ropes, vertical guides and various other moving parts that are attached to the conveyance are inspected for any signs of wear and replaced if necessary. Preventive maintenance, such as lubrication, is also done on a weekly basis to help reduce wear. Individuals performing these inspections are trained to evaluate the overall condition of the shaft and associated functional equipment.
Weekly shaft inspections and maintenance are just one of the activities necessary to prepare for the resumption of daily entries into the underground facility.