KUNM

EPA Asks For Public Input On WIPP Recertification

Jun 17, 2015

The Environmental Protection Agency is considering whether to recertify an underground nuclear waste storage facility in southeastern New Mexico. It’s the first time the Department of Energy has gone through this process since a drum burst deep underground at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, leaking radiation and contaminating workers.

The EPA wants public input Wednesday night in Albuquerque.

Every five years the EPA is required to do a performance assessment of WIPP to decide whether or not the repository will be safe 10,000 years after it closes.

Russ Patterson with the DOE said last year’s events don’t have anything to do with whether WIPP will be successful in the long-term.

“WIPP performance is based on compliance that applies to the post-closure period after we close for 10,000 years,” Patterson said, “so there is no aspect of the fire or the fact that that drum breached that affects long term performance. None.”

An EPA official said because of last year’s radiation leak, it’s taking them longer then normal to review WIPP’s recertification.

WIPP can resume operations before the review is complete, according to EPA, which wants all formal comments submitted in writing.

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The EPA roundtable discussion will begin at 7 p.m. at Embassy Suites in Albuquerque on June 17th, 2015.