DOE takes steps to reopen WIPP

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By The Staff

One of two safety plans needed before workers can re-enter the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has been approved, according to a release from the facility Monday.
The Department of Energy has approved a plan to ensure the WIPP ventilation system is working. A second plan to ensure worker safety still needs approval before anyone can re-enter the underground site.
This week, workers will inspect the hoist ropes for the Salt and Air Intake conveyances that will lower personnel to the underground facility.
Plans are underway to move a number of waste packages from WIPP’s Parking Area Unit into the Waste Handling Bay for venting — a requirement of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “Venting” involves removing the waste from the transportation packages to allow the dissipation of any hydrogen buildup, a process that poses no risk to the public or environment.
The waste payloads will be removed from the shipping packages and stored in the Waste Handling Building in accordance with the WIPP Hazardous Waste Facility Permit, which allows for 60‐day storage in the Waste Handling Building.
The New Mexico Environment Department approved an additional 45‐day extension to store wastes in the Waste Handling Building.

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