Construction Planned for Two Vital Systems Projects at New Mexico's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP)
Construction could begin in either April or May on an extensive rebuilding of the air flow systems at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) 20 miles north of Carlsbad.
The plant is the only long term geological repository for nuclear waste in the country.
The project will specifically see the installation of a new safety significant confinement ventilation system, as well as a new exhaust shaft.
The ventilation system construction could cost in the neighborhood of $273 million, while the exhaust shaft may come in at $100 million or more.
The ventilation system will be designed to move air from the plant’s underground mine into two spaces: a 25,000 square-foot salt reduction building, and a filtration building measuring 55,000 square feet.
Work on both the ventilation system and exhaust shaft is expected to take at least 4 years to complete.
In February of 2014 a salt truck at the plant caught fire. That fire was 2,000 feet underground. Subsequently, air monitoring equipment was out of use, prompting WIPP to suspend operations.
Not until January of this year was WIPP, with a temporary ventilation system up and running, re-opened. It began accepting new shipments of nuclear waste in April. Los Alamos National Laboratory resumed sending its shipments late this year.