Work resumed underground last week at the Energy Department’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, N.M., following a recent rock fall, a New Mexico newspaper reported Nov. 20.
The Carlsbad Current-Argus reported work resumed Nov. 16 after a rock fall in Room 6 of Panel 7 on Nov. 14. The newspaper also cited Donavan Mager, a spokesman for WIPP management contractor Nuclear Waste Partnership, as saying there were two canisters of remote-handled waste in the room where the collapse occurred.
An earlier news release from NWP about the rock fall had incorrectly stated there was no waste emplaced in the area, Mager said in the article. Rock falls are not uncommon in the WIPP underground, and Room 6 of Panel 7 has been off-limits to workers for years, according to the contractor.
Meanwhile, the next WIPP Town Hall meeting is scheduled for for Dec. 13.
These public briefings, convened quarterly by DOE’s Carlsbad Field Office and site contractor Nuclear Waste Partnership, are held at the Carlsbad City Council chambers and made available via webcast. The meetings typically cover a wide variety of topics concerning the disposal site for defense transuranic waste.
Topics likely to come up during the briefing include the $135 million contract award, announced Nov. 19, for the Critical Applications Alliance joint venture to build a new permanent ventilation system at WIPP; and DOE’s request that the New Mexico Environment Department allow a different approach for counting the volume of waste disposed of underground.