Repository wins environmental recognition

01 May 2013

A geologic radiological waste disposal site in New Mexico has been honoured for its environmental stewardship efforts.

The highest status of Gold Level Leader was awarded to the US Department of Energy's (DoE's) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) by the New Mexico Environment Department's Green Zia Environmental Leadership Program (GZELP).

WIPP (DOE) 460
A shipment of transuranic waste arrives at WIPP (Image: DoE)

This was based on recognition of WIPP's "demonstration of environmental leadership in support of pollution prevention and sustainability," said the DoE. WIPP was credited for its continuing environmental achievements, including hazardous waste reduction, energy conservation and pollution prevention.

WIPP is the only operating geologic repository in the world, where radioactive transuranium waste from American military programs is disposed of in a 655-metre-deep geologic salt formation. It has operated since 1999 in the New Mexico desert under the management of the DoE's Carlsbad office. However, management and operation of the facility was transferred to Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC in October 2012 under a five-year contract. Nuclear Waste Partnership is led by URS Corporation, partnered by Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services Group, with Areva Federal Services LLC as the major subcontractor.

Carlsbad office head Joe Franco said, "WIPP is committed to protecting the environment and conserving natural resources so they're available for use by future generations. Credit goes to the WIPP team, which is very deserving of this recognition."

The voluntary GZELP program is designed for all types of organizations in New Mexico who demonstrate a commitment to environmental stewardship. Applicants must document environmental achievements and set future goals. WIPP is one of only three New Mexico organizations to achieve Gold Level status in 2013: the other two being Raytheon's Diné facility in Farmington and NASA's White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces.

WIPP was chosen by the NMED as a Silver Level Leader in 2012 and Bronze Level Leader in 2011.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News