KUNM

NMED Secretary: We Are Confident WIPP Is Ready To Go

Jan 6, 2017

The nation’s only underground nuclear waste dump is back in operation again. The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad stored low level nuclear waste deep in the earth Wednesday for the first time since the facility was closed following a fire and a radiation leak in early 2014.

The New Mexico Environment Department enforces hazardous waste regulations at WIPP. Secretary Butch Tongate says they’ve reviewed procedures, equipment, safety protocols and permit compliance at the facility.

"At this point, we are confident that they are back on track and ready to go," Tongate said. "And we’ll continue to serve the country’s needs as far as depositing transuranic waste."

NMED officials couldn’t provide specifics about how changes to policies and procedures would prevent problems like the 2014 radiation release.