WIPP storage plan draws concern

A nuclear watchdog group raised concerns Friday with a plan to build above-ground storage of transuranic waste at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad.

The U.S. Department of Energy has applied for a permit with the New Mexico Environment Department for the new storage facility. 

Joni Arends of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety said the DOE should be concentrating on ongoing safety issues at WIPP, not expanding the facility with another above ground, permanent waste facility at the site. 

WIPP already has a similar facility for the same purpose.

“They never needed to use that surge to be able to store extra waste, so we don’t understand why DOE is proposing it,” Arends said.  

She also said that with the recent series of ceiling cave-ins that has caused the DOE to phase in a shut down of the southern part of the facility, safety should be the first priority. 

“We think that for worker safety and protecting the environment and human health, resources need to be put into closing that part of the mine where the roof falls have taken place,” Arends said.