WIPP Begins Mining New Waste Disposal Panel for First Time in Decade

WIPP FirstCut TeamPhoto 2024 01 23


CARLSBAD, N.M. — Just before the new year, there was quite the ribbon-cutting at EM’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

At the event, the spinning teeth of a multi-ton mechanical mining machine clawed through the ceremonial ribbon and began cutting a new disposal panel out of a 250-million-year-old layer of salt beneath the New Mexico desert.

It’s the first time in a decade that crews have started mining a new disposal panel at the nation’s only deep geologic waste repository for defense-related transuranic waste.

“The successful start to mining Panel 11 was a great demonstration of how open dialogue and communication with our regulators and stakeholders, along with the support of the field office team, can help mission success,” said Michael Gerle, environmental regulatory compliance director for EM’s Carlsbad Field Office, which oversees WIPP.

The new Panel 11 is the first of two waste emplacement panels approved last year by the New Mexico Environment Department as part of a 10-year extension of WIPP’s operating permit. The new panel does not represent an increase in the scope for WIPP; the waste to be emplaced in Panel 11 is within original congressional volume limits established for the waste repository.

The creation of new panels allows safe and compliant emplacement of waste to continue from generator sites throughout the United States, supporting DOE’s environmental cleanup and national security missions.

“We are excited to begin mining WIPP’s newest panel,” said Mike Marksberry, a vice president and mining and underground operations manager with Salado Isolation Mining Contractors, EM’s management and operations contractor for WIPP. “Mining a disposal panel is a huge team effort involving our engineers, geologists, environmental staff, skilled mining crews and many support organizations.”



This article was originally published by a www.energy.gov

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