Two WIPP Hazardous Waste Permit Application Meetings

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) will hold two public meetings about their draft hazardous waste permit application to renew the 10-year permit issued by the New Mexico Environment Department.  The Department of Energy and its contractor at WIPP, Nuclear Waste Partnership, LLC, are required to hold these meetings to inform the public about proposed changes to the hazardous waste management activities and to receive comments before they submit their application to the Environment Department.

This is the second renewal application WIPP will submit.  The first 10-year permit went into effect in December 1999.  It was renewed in December 2010.  The current permit expires on December 30, 2020.  The application is due 180 days before the permit expires, or on or before July 3rd.

This draft application is 1,285 pages so it will take a while to review it before the public meetings occur in the second half of January.

The first meeting will be held in Santa Fe on Thursday, January 23rd from 5 to 7 pm at the Santa Fe Hilton, located at 100 Sandoval.  The second meeting will be held in Carlsbad on Thursday, January 30th from 5 to 7 pm at the Skeen-Whitlock Building, located at 4021 National Parks Highway.  Public comments will be accepted through Monday, February 3rd at

Some of the proposed changes include moving provisions about dispute resolution; preparedness for emergencies and prevention of accidents; security; and characterization of the site from the main permit to the attachments.

WIPP is required to re-evaluate their 300-year Performance Demonstration by comparing the original application with subsequent applications.  The draft application states, “[T]he original analysis and the updated information reach the same conclusion that the only significant pathway for the release of hazardous waste or hazardous waste constituents from [WIPP] is the air pathway involving the release of volatile organic compounds from containers prior to final facility closure.”   

The New Mexico hazardous waste laws and regulations allow the Environment Department Secretary to request additional information to establish permit conditions that will protect human health and the environment.  For over a year, CCNS has been asking the Environment Department to require DOE to provide exposure information from WIPP operations, specifically the February 2014 release of radioactive and hazardous pollutants.  Apparently, the Secretary has not asked for such information because WIPP did not include it in their draft application.

Permit applications for both WIPP and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) are due in mid-2020.  At a recent public meeting, LANL could not say when they will submit their application.  WIPP plans to submit theirs in March.

  1. Your financial support makes a difference!  Please help CCNS with an end-of-the-year tax-deductible contribution.  Mail your check to CCNS, P. O. Box 31147, Santa Fe, NM  87594-1147, or use our e-contribution form on the right side of our home page at We need your contribution to continue our weekly broadcast and social media work.  There’s a lot of work to be done in 2020 – stay informed with the CCNS Media Network!  Many thanks
  2.  Friday, December 20th – The NM Environmental Improvement Board hearing on the proposed hazardous waste fee increases was completed.  The Board may render a decision at their next meeting on Friday, January 24, 2020.  The agenda has not been posted yet, but check back.  Thank you to everyone who submitted comments.  They made a difference! 
  3.  Thursday, January 9th – The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) will host a public engagement meeting

    to discuss the 2016 Consent Order for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), which is between the Department of Energy and NMED.  The meeting will be from 5:30 to 7 pm at the University of NM – Los Alamos, 4000 University Drive, Bldg. 6, Room 631, Los Alamos, NM.   If you need interpretation or assistance at the meeting, please contact Neelam Dhawan, of the NMED Hazardous Waste Bureau, at (505) 476-6042 or via email at

  4.   Wednesday, January 15th – The Environmental Protection Agency will host a public meeting (beginning at 5 pm)


    and hearing (beginning at 7 pm) about the LANL Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permit renewal at the Pojoaque Valley Sixth Grade Academy, 1574 State Road 502 West.


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