An official website of the United States government.

We've made some changes to EPA.gov. If the information you are looking for is not here, you may be able to find it on the EPA Web Archive or the January 19, 2017 Web Snapshot.

Radiation Protection

Certification and Recertification of WIPP

In The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) Land Withdrawal Act (LWA) (PDF) (7 pp, 159.32 K, About PDF), Congress required EPA to certify that the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE's) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) complies with the waste disposal regulations at 40 CFR Part 191, Subparts B and C, as well as WIPP Compliance Criteria at 40 CFR Part 194. Congress also required EPA to recertify the facility every five years following the initial receipt of transuranicHelptransuranicElements with atomic numbers higher than uranium (92). For example, plutonium and americium are transuranics. (TRU) waste until the end of its operational activities.

Recertification is a process that evaluates changes at WIPP to determine whether the facility continues to meet all the requirements of EPA’s disposal regulations. The recertification process helps ensure WIPP's continued compliance based on the most accurate, up-to-date information available. 

EPA initially certified WIPP on May 13, 1998 and WIPP first received TRU waste on March 26, 1999. DOE submitted applications for recertification in 2004, 2009, 2014 and 2019.

View docket information related to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

On this page:

2019 Compliance Recertification

On March 19, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) officially submitted the fourth Compliance Recertification Application (CRA) for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) to the EPA. This step initiated the recertification process required by Congress. Recertification is a process to verify that changes at the facility in the preceding five-year period comply with the Agency's disposal standards for radioactive waste. A Federal Register notice announcing receipt of the application, as well as the official opening of the public comment period and electronic docket for this action (via www.regulations.gov), will be published in the near future.  

View the complete 2019 recertification application on the DOE website.

The EPA will now begin reviewing the 2019 CRA for completeness. Completeness is a preliminary, administrative step that indicates that the DOE has provided information relevant to each applicable provision of the WIPP Compliance Criteria and in sufficient detail for us to proceed with a full technical evaluation on the adequacy of the application. The EPA will issue requests for supplementary information should there be any areas of the 2019 CRA that require supplementary information/analyses from the DOE, as appropriate. Learn more about EPA's Role at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

Top of Page

2014-2017 Compliance Recertification

On March 26, 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) officially submitted the third Compliance Recertification Application (CRA) to EPA. This step initiated the recertification process required by Congress. Recertification is a process to verify that changes at the facility in the preceding five-year period comply with EPA's disposal standards for radioactive waste.

On July 13, 2017, EPA officially recertified the DOE’s WIPP facility, confirming that it continues to comply with the agency's radioactive waste disposal regulations at 40 CFR Part 191, Subparts B and C, as well as with WIPP Compliance Criteria at 40 CFR Part 194. EPA based its recertification decision on a thorough review of information submitted by DOE, independent technical analyses, and public comments. All of the documents related to the Agency's recertification decision are available through the EPA WIPP Dockets.

View the final recertification decision.

View the complete 2014 recertification application on the DOE website. 

View documents related to the 2014 WIPP Recertification (including public comments, as well as all technical documents supporting the recertification decision) in EPA's electronic docket (EPA-HQ-OAR-2014-0609) on regulations.gov.

DOE is required to submit their next recertification application to EPA in March 2019.

Top of Page

2009-2010 Compliance Recertification

On March 24, 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) officially submitted the second Compliance Recertification Application (CRA) to EPA. This step initiated the second of EPA’s periodic evaluations of the facility's continued compliance, as required by Congress.  On November 18, 2010, EPA officially recertified that the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE's) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) continued to comply with the waste disposal regulations at 40 CFR Part 191, Subparts B and C, as well as with WIPP Compliance Criteria at 40 CFR Part 194. EPA based its recertification decision on a thorough review of information submitted by DOE, independent technical analyses, and public comments. All of the documents related to the Agency's recertification decision are available through the EPA WIPP Dockets. 

View 2009-10 recertification-related documents, including DOE's complete application and supporting documents.

View documents related to the 2009-10 WIPP Recertification (including public comments) in EPA's electronic docket (EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0330) on regulations.gov.

Top of Page

2004-2006 Compliance Recertification

EPA received the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) official Compliance Recertification Application on March 26, 2004. A 30-day comment period opened on May 24, 2004 and was extended to December 5, 2005. On March 29, 2006, EPA officially recertified that the U.S. Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) continued to comply with the waste disposal regulations at 40 CFR Part 191, Subparts B and C, as well as with WIPP Compliance Criteria at 40 CFR Part 194. This action was the first of EPA’s periodic evaluations of the facility's continued compliance. EPA based its recertification decision on a thorough review of information submitted by DOE, independent technical analyses, and public comments. All of the documents related to the Agency's recertification decision are available through the EPA WIPP Docket.

View 2004-06 WIPP Recertification-related documents. 

View documents related to the 2004-2006 WIPP Recertification (including public comments) in EPA's electronic docket (EPA-HQ-OAR-2004-0025) on regulations.gov.

Top of Page

1998 Compliance Certification

DOE submitted a Compliance Certification Application (CCA) to EPA on October 29, 1996, to demonstrate that the WIPP complies with the criteria at 40 CFR Part 194. After receiving the CCA, EPA published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register that announced receipt of the application and initiated a 120-day public comment period. Copies of the application were made available for public inspection at the Agency WIPP docket and the three supplemental New Mexico Dockets. Written comments were solicited, and public hearings were held in New Mexico in February 1997.

Over the next several months, EPA requested additional information from DOE related to the completeness and technical sufficiency of the CCA. View EPA's May 22, 1997 announcement that the CCA was complete.

View the October 30, 1997 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. This notice announced the proposed certification that the WIPP will comply with EPA's disposal standards. It  was accompanied by Compliance Application Review Documents (CARDs) explaining the technical basis for EPA's decision. EPA's responses to comments received on the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking were also included with the CARDs. This announcement initiated a 120-day period in which the public commented on the Proposed Certification. During this comment period the Agency held public hearings in Carlsbad, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

View the May 18, 1998 Final Rulemaking Notice on the certification decision. This decision is accompanied by a document that summarizes significant comments and issues regarding the proposal and provides EPA's responses.

View certification-related documents and DOE's application and supporting documents for 1998 WIPP Certification.

Top of Page