DOE Breaks its Promises to New Mexico Part I

DOE plans to dump the Nation’s nuclear weapons’ waste at WIPP 
The Department of Energy (DOE) will soon publish a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to allow disposal of 34 metric tons of so-called “surplus plutonium” at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico. (Surplus plutonium is pure or diluted, pure plutonium.)

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has stated that WIPP’s legal capacity would be exceeded by bringing that surplus plutonium to WIPP. This would break the social contract between DOE and New Mexico—promises the State wanted before agreeing to accept WIPP. The NAS had concerns about the violation of this social contract as well as about other obstacles to bringing so much surplus plutonium to WIPP.

The social contract is based on these three promises:

  • To accept no more than 6.2 million cubic feet of waste
  • To take only transuranic waste, not pure or somewhat diluted, plutonium (Plutonium is a transuranic element—a man-made element that is heavier than uranium.)
  • To build other repositories so New Mexico would not be the sole state burdened with the permanent disposal of all of the nation’s nuclear weapons’ waste

DOE’s planned changes break all of these promises.

Even U.S. Senator, Pete Domenici, a strong proponent of WIPP from its beginning, never wanted surplus plutonium waste to be buried at WIPP. In 2002 he said, “I want to ensure that high level … wastes can never be simply diluted in order to comply with criteria for WIPP disposal … [Such dilution] raises serious questions about our adherence to the same international controls on weapon-related materials that we expect other nations to follow.” Yet this is exactly what DOE is doing now in 2021.


What Can I do?

Click here for a short & simple sample comment email

Click here for a longer, more detailed sample comment email

Click here for a WIPP timeline and summary of WIPP history


  • Tell your senators, representatives, and the Governor to oppose DOE’s proposal to bring 34 metric tons or more of diluted surplus plutonium to WIPP.


  • Also ask for a more inclusive public process, especially for those who need information in Spanish or other languages, and for those who have poor or no online access.





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Southwest Research and Information Center
P.O. Box 4524
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-4524
Make the check out to SRIC and put Stop Forever WIPP in the memo line

Stop Forever WIPP is a coalition opposing the expansion of WIPP and is a project of SRIC, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. All donations are tax deductible.




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