The Energy Department’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M., received 60 shipments of transuranic waste in just over the first two-and-a-half months of 2018, according to the latest publicly available data.
Of the shipments received by March 18, 44 came from the Idaho National Laboratory. The remaining 16 were split evenly between the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and the commercial Waste Control Specialists site in Texas.
Sixty shipments over almost 11 weeks averages out to roughly 5.5 shipments per week at the underground transuranic waste repository. During the recent Waste Management Symposia, DOE Carlsbad Field Office Manager Todd Shrader said WIPP’s waste receipt schedule is sometimes affected by maintenance outages, holidays, and weather. The Energy Department and site management contractor Nuclear Waste Partnership have indicated they expect to boost the shipment count to 10 per week sometime this summer.
After a nearly three-year recovery from a pair of February 2014 accidents, WIPP last April resumed accepting waste shipments from other DOE sites. The site took in 133 shipments during its nine months of waste operations in 2017.
WIPP in January also gradually restarted underground salt mining for the first time since the accidents. Salt mining is now conducted in 10-hour shifts that end at 3 p.m., followed by a 10-hour shift for waste emplacement, NWP spokesman Donavan Mager said Monday.
The next public WIPP Town Hall is expected soon, with the probable date being April 19, Mager said.