No DOE Employee Testifying at Permit Hearing about Proposed WIPP Expansion
No Department of Energy (DOE) employee will testify about the purpose and need for the construction of a fifth shaft into the underground mine at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) during the May 17th public hearing. This is important because over the decades DOE has signed multiple agreements that created a “social contract” with the People of New Mexico about WIPP operations. These include agreements that WIPP would dispose of transuranic, or TRU, plutonium-contaminated waste from nuclear weapons manufacturing, in the deep geological repository over a 25-year disposal period, and then close down. WIPP opened on March 25, 1999. The current permit requires closure to begin in 2024. Pleas see “Statement of Intent to Present Technical Testimony on Behalf of Southwest Research and Information Center,” dated May 3, 2021, Docket No. HWB 21-02. Technical Testimony Intent DH Complete
But DOE and its contractor, Nuclear Waste Partners, LLC (NWP), have other plans. Essential to those plans is digging a new $197 million shaft to the west of the existing disposal area and mining tunnels to connect the shaft to that area. https://wipp.energy.gov/ and https://www.nwp-wipp.com/
DOE and NWP claim that the new shaft is needed to improve ventilation, but they misrepresent the truth. Historically, the required airflow was provided by the four existing shafts. New ventilation systems, not requiring the new shaft, were permitted in 2018 to increase ventilation capacity lost by the February 2014 fire and radiation release.
In truth, DOE has released a number of new reports that require WIPP’s operation for at least 60 more years, but about which they refuse to provide a witness during the upcoming hearing. DOE, Carlsbad Field Office and Nuclear Waste Partnership, 2021, “Legislative Update Waste Isolation Pilot Plant,” February 9, 2021. https://wipp.energy.gov/Library/documents/2021/Final_2021_Legislative_Update_Presentation. DOE, “Supplement Analysis for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Site-Wide Operations” (for excavation of two underground replacement panels), DOE/EIS-0026-SA, March 2021, effective April 8, 2021. https://www.energy.gov/nepa/articles/doeeis-0026-sa-12-supplement-analysis-waste-isolation-pilot-plant-site-wide
Such expansion, in violation of the “social contract,” requires additional repositories and endangers public health and the environment in New Mexico and along transportation routes through many other states.
The proposed shaft and associated drifts are the subject of a five-day virtual New Mexico Environment Department public hearing, beginning on Monday, May 17th at noon. https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp/, scroll down to March 10, 2021 post below “WIPP News 2021.” DOE, NWP and the State Hazardous Waste Bureau support the new shaft and drifts. However, the public should note that the Bureau added that it reserves “the right to modify its position [before the closing of the public hearing] based on any comment or testimony presented at the hearing or based on any written comments submitted.”
Public participation is thus invited. People can make oral comments during the virtual hearing or submit written comments before or during the hearing.
Some people are creating short videos about their concerns for putting more plutonium on the roads resulting in increased exposures to radiation to their neighborhood and communities. Sample videos are available at the Stop Forever WIPP Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/StopfvrWIPP/ and YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClofjc-x5YwtXHqg5hUh0AA also; on YouTube you will find animations, “Broken Promises, Parts 1, 2, 3, 4,” as well as recent radio interviews on KUNM, and KSFR, KNIZ
Four short sample videos are available here: “New Mexico is Not the Nation’s Nuclear Toilet;” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClofjc-x5YwtXHqg5hUh0AA ; “This is My Neighborhood,” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClofjc-x5YwtXHqg5hUh0AA ; “These are Our Neighborhoods,” https://youtu.be/Iwm6o-XP58s ; and “Why I’m Concerned for Our Neighborhoods,” https://youtu.be/KeotZ_dutqA.
Five Stop Forever WIPP Coalition newsletters and sample public comments you can use are available at CCNS’s website at http://nuclearactive.org/, and https://www.facebook.com/StopfvrWIPP/ . Please share this Update with family, friends, and colleagues.
Did You Know? We are Podcasting!
1. Every Friday and Saturday from noon to 1 pm – Protest LANL signing a 10-year lease (for the former Descartes building) to establish itself “permanently” in Santa Fe at the corner of Guadalupe and W. Alameda. JOIN Veterans for Peace, CCNS, Nuclear Watch NM, and others. We’ll have banners. Please bring a sign.
2. Mon. May 17th – Fri. May 21 – Virtual Public Hearing about Proposed Shaft for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). For more information: NM Environment Department at https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp/ (scroll down to March 10, 2021 entry); Stop Forever WIPP Coalition at https://www.facebook.com/StopfvrWIPP/ ; and CCNS at http://nuclearactive.org/
CALL TO ACTION!
SUBMIT YOUR ORAL AND WRITTEN PUBLIC COMMENTS
ABOUT THE PROPOSED NEW SHAFT AND DRIFTS AT WIPP!
Please see the five-part Stop Forever WIPP Coalition newsletters about the proposed shaft, the public hearing, how you can participate, and sample comment letters you can use. Newsletter No. 4 available in Spanish!
Create your own short video about your concerns for putting more plutonium on the roads resulting in increased exposures to radiation to their neighborhood and communities. Sample videos are available at the Stop Forever WIPP Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/StopfvrWIPP/ and YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClofjc-x5YwtXHqg5hUh0AA also; on YouTube you will find animations, “Broken Promises, Parts 1, 2, 3, 4,” as well as recent radio interviews on KUNM, and KSFR, KNIZ.
Four short sample videos are available here: “New Mexico is Not the Nation’s Nuclear Toilet;” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClofjc-x5YwtXHqg5hUh0AA ; “This is My Neighborhood,” https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClofjc-x5YwtXHqg5hUh0AA ; “These are Our Neighborhoods,” https://youtu.be/Iwm6o-XP58s ; and “Why I’m Concerned for OUR Neighborhoods,” https://youtu.be/KeotZ_dutqA.
Tags: $197 million shaft, 2, 3, 4, airflow, Broken Promises Parts 1, Department of Energy, DOE, February 2014 fire and radiation release, Hazardous Waste Bureau, KNIZ, KSFR, KUNM, New Mexico Environment Department, Nuclear Waste Partners LLC, public hearing, public participation, sample public comments, social contract, Southwest Research and Information Center, Stop Forever WIPP Coalition, StopfvrWIPP, ventilation, videos, Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, WIPP, ” People of New Mexico