The Department of Energy’s $1 billion Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, New Mexico, which was built to store transuranic radioactive waste generated by US defence programmes, has moved a step closer to opening, possibly by February.
One of the roadblocks was lifted in December when DOE found that 116 barrels of transuranic radioactive waste awaiting shipment to WIPP from the Los Alamos National Laboratory does not contain hazardous chemicals. The New Mexico Environment Department had said any shipment containing both radioactivity and hazardous chemicals would require a special licence.
A federal judge in Washington must still rule on a suit by the Attorney General of New Mexico before the waste can actually be shipped. The TRU waste would be stored 2150 feet underground in a repository carved out of salt beds.