In February 2014, two incidents at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or WIPP, in New Mexico caused the shutdown of the only facility in the U.S. that permanently disposes of transuranic waste, or TRU waste. That waste is disposed in shafts, or drifts, about a half-mile below ground in an ancient salt bed. Some of that waste has come from Oak Ridge.
After months of investigations into the cause of a truck fire and a radiological release two weeks later, the U.S. Department of Energy released a recovery plan at the end of September that outlines the steps necessary to resume limited waste operations in the first quarter of 2016.
“Key elements of the recovery plan include strengthening safety programs, regulatory compliance, decontamination of the underground, increasing ventilation, mine stability and underground habitability, and additional workforce retraining,” according to a statement on WIPP’s website. [Read more…]