Wednesday, February 5, 2014

New Mexico WIPP

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or WIPP, is the world's third deep geological repository (after closure of Germany's Repository for radioactive waste Morsleben and the Schacht Asse II Salt Mine) licensed to permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste for 10,000 years[1] that is left from the research and production of nuclear weapons.
It is located approximately 26 miles (42 km) east of Carlsbad, New Mexico, in eastern Eddy County, in an area known as the southeastern New Mexico nuclear corridor which also includes the National Enrichment Facility near Eunice, New Mexico, the Waste Control Specialists low-level waste disposal facility just over the border near Andrews, Texas, and the International Isotopes, Inc. facility to be built near Eunice, New Mexico.[2]   Source:

My friend Keith always keeps an eye out for any breaking nuclear news I may have missed. He came up with today's story coming out of the WIPP facility near Carlsbad, New Mexico. I doubt that it will make it on the nightly news. When you read this little story be aware that this waste repository deals with "plutonium-contaminated waste like clothing, tools and other debris" - we are not talking about the "big stuff", spent fuel. Just shows how very dangerous nuclear waste is even in its simplest form.

This from the New York Times, AP story:

Fire Prompts Evacuation of Nuclear Repository

CARLSBAD, N.M. — Emergency crews are battling a fire in the federal government's underground nuclear waste repository in southeastern New Mexico.
Officials say a truck hauling salt caught fire about 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M.
According to a press release and a spokeswoman who answered the emergency line, all employees have been evacuated and none of the radioactive waste has been impacted. But a press release says "multiple employees" are being taken to a hospital for potential smoke inhalation.
Emergency officials say all waste handling operations are suspended and rescue teams have been activated.
The repository takes plutonium-contaminated waste like clothing, tools and other debris from Los Alamos National Laboratory and defense projects. The waste is then buried in rooms cut from underground salt beds.

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