After searching since late 2017, Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP), the Energy Department’s prime contractor for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico, has hired a director of underground mining.
The contractor and DOE said Tuesday Pete Graham, who previously worked as a plant manager for US Silica in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., started at WIPP on June 4. Graham was also previously a Sifto Canada mine manager at the largest underground salt mine in the world and worked in management positions for mining operations Detroit Salt and ASARCO.
Graham will be in charge of all aspects of salt mining at WIPP. This includes engineering, geotechnical issues, the fabrication shop, the hoisting and shaft crew, and underground maintenance.
Salt mining resumed at WIPP in January in Panel 8. It was the first mining at the transuranic waste facility since a February 2014 radiation release that forced WIPP out of operation for about three years. The salt mining in Panel 8 is targeted for completion in 2020, before waste emplacement is finished in Panel 7.
The Energy Department told NWP last September it should hire a chief mining officer as one of its key positions. The agency called for the post when it issued NWP a three-year, $928 million extension to its DOE contract. Second sentence pretty much repeats the first, with more detail. Combine them. The base five-year deal NWP signed in April 2012 was worth $1.3 billion.