EPA Recertification Public Meetings June 16 in Carlsbad and June 17 in Albuquerque



Runs 6/12/15 through 6/19/15

(THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

            EPA Recertification Public Meetings June 16 in Carlsbad and June 17 in Albuquerque

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is holding public meetings in Carlsbad and Albuquerque regarding the Department of Energy (DOE) recertification application to demonstrate that the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) will not leak radiation for 10,000 years. That application was submitted six weeks after the February 14, 2014 radiation leak that was never supposed to happen, but does not mention that event. However, EPA has stated that the radiation release is an important consideration in its review.  http://www.epa.gov/radiation/news/wipp-news.html#wippcra2014pubmeetings

The meetings will include EPA and WIPP officials and allow for questions, answers, and discussion as part of the information exchange among the government officials and the public. The Tuesday, June 16th meeting is at the Carlsbad Field Office from 1:30 to 4:30 pm. On Wednesday, June 17, the two Albuquerque sessions are at the Embassy Suites Hotel, at 1000 Woodward Place, Northeast. From 2:30 to 6 pm the roundtable dialogue will allow detailed technical discussion. The evening session from 7 to 9 pm will include time for public statements. The public can provide comments during each session.

As a result of the radiation leak, many changes will have to be made for WIPP to re-open. Among the changes are a new exhaust shaft and new underground waste disposal rooms. Neither of those major changes is mentioned in the DOE application.

Further, ignitable waste in hundreds of drums shipped to WIPP from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) have been identified by DOE as the source of the radiation leak, even though such waste is not allowed at WIPP. Such waste is omitted from the analysis in the DOE application.

Also not discussed in the application is how the LANL waste characterization information could have been so inadequate as to allow prohibited waste at WIPP and what changes are required.

Other issues include whether EPA has to approve WIPP’s reopening, which, given the lack of complete and accurate information in the DOE application, is unlikely to occur so that WIPP could re-open in March 2016, as is DOE’s current schedule.

Federal law and EPA’s regulations prohibit commercial and high-level waste at WIPP. DOE and EPA are being asked to explain why small quantities of commercial spent nuclear fuel have been allowed at WIPP.

According to Don Hancock, of Southwest Research and Information Center, “The meetings are an important opportunity for people to tell EPA to do its job of protecting New Mexicans now and for generations into the future.”  sric.org

EPA can take the information and public comments to raise additional questions about the DOE application. DOE must provide information at the meetings and submit much more information to EPA to address the inadequacies in their application.


This has been the CCNS News Update. To learn more, please visit our website at nuclearactive.org


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