EPA Response to 2014 Radioactive Release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP)
EPA is in regular contact with DOE, the New Mexico Environment Department and the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center. To date, EPA’s review of the data collected indicates:
- That the radiation releases do not pose public health concern.
- That DOE followed the procedures previously approved by EPA.
- That the WIPP facility remains in compliance with EPA regulations.
March 30, 2015: DOE has issued its Technical Assessment Team (TAT) Report related to the February 2014 radiological release at the WIPP. The TAT is an independent team of technical experts that evaluated the mechanisms and chemical reactions contributing to the failure of the waste drum in the underground facility. The report concludes that one drum (Drum 68660) was the source of radioactive contamination.
DOE’s WIPP TAT Report released by the Office of Environmental Management can be found at the following link:
December 7, 2014: DOE has responded to EPA’s WIPP Inspection Report & WIPP Summary Report (sent in October 2014) documenting the Agency’s actions and findings related to the February 2014 release at the facility. The attached report includes a schedule and description of implemented and planned activities, as well as identifying improvements to the design and maintenance of the ambient air sampling network and integration of sample handling and analysis.
DOE’s summary report in response to EPA’s findings can be found in U.S. Department of Energy Plan for Addressing the Areas for Improvement Identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (84 pg, 7.73MB, About PDF).
- U.S. Department of Energy, Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Recovery
- DOE has released its Phase I Accident Investigation Report and accompanying summary slides regarding the WIPP event. These can can be found at: http://www.wipp.energy.gov/wipprecovery/path_forward.html
- New Mexico Environment Department- Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Issue Page
- Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring & Research Center
- EPA Actions in Response to Release of Radioactive Material from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (PDF) (1 pp, 98 K, About PDF)
- See EPA's WIPP Response Photo Gallery
2014 WIPP Recertification
On March 26, 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) officially submitted the third Compliance Recertification Application (CRA) to EPA, initiating the recertification process required by Congress. Recertification is not a reconsideration of the decision to open WIPP, but rather a process to verify that changes at the facility in the preceding five-year period comply with EPA's disposal standards for radioactive waste. Please check the page below periodically for future updates.
2014 Compliance Recertification Application (Updated 6/10/15 – DOE Responses on Completeness)
2009-2010 WIPP Recertification
On March 24, 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) officially submitted the second Compliance Recertification Application (CRA) to EPA, initiating the recertification process required by Congress. Recertification is not a reconsideration of the decision to open WIPP, but rather a process to verify that changes at the facility in the preceding five-year period comply with EPA's disposal standards for radioactive waste.
EPA issued its second recertification decision for WIPP on November 18, 2010. EPA determined that the U.S. Department of Energy facility continues to comply with the Agency's waste disposal regulations and compliance criteria.
2004-2006 WIPP Recertification
EPA issued its first recertification decision for WIPP in March 2006. EPA determined that the U.S. Department of Energy facility continues to comply with the Agency’s waste disposal regulations and compliance criteria.2006 WIPP Recertification Decision
Oversight Role & Activities
About WIPP Oversight
History of EPA's involvement in the WIPP program, its role and other information
EPA's Continuing Role
A description of EPA's oversight role that continues beyond WIPP's initial certification
Waste Characterization Inspections (Updated 6/11/14 - Site Status Tables)
Inspections of Department of Energy facilities that plan to ship waste to WIPP
Certification and Recertification Decision Documents
2006 WIPP Recertification Decision
DOE's application, technical support documents, compliance application review documents, etc.
1998 WIPP Certification Decision
Regulations, response to comments, background information documents, etc.
locations and operating hours of publicly available WIPP records
News & Information
News Room (Updated 6/1/15 – WIPP CRA-2014 Informal Public Meetings)
fact sheets, independent reports, brochures, WIPP Bulletins, and guides
related information on this and other web sites
searchable database of answers to questions about WIPP