WIPP to Stay Open Forever? Speak Up at the July 7th WIPP Community Forum

Did you know that the Department of Energy (DOE) plans to continue disposing of plutonium-contaminated radioactive and hazardous waste in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) essentially forever?  In filings submitted to the New Mexico Environment Department on Monday, DOE stated, “[the] final facility closure could begin no earlier than [Calendar Year] 2083.”  https://wipp.energy.gov/Library/Information_Repository_A/Technical_Incompleteness_Determinations/22-0225_Letter_Redacted.pdf , p. 2 of 11.

On Thursday, July 7th, beginning at 5:30 pm, DOE will host a virtual and in-person WIPP Community Forum and Open House in Santa Fe.  It will take place at the Santa Fe Convention Center in the O’Keefe and Milagro Rooms, located at 201 West Marcy Street.  An agenda has yet to be posted.  Virtual attendees may ask questions and make comments via the chat.  https://www.wipp.energy.gov/wipp_news_20220623.asp

For decades prior to WIPP’s opening on March 26, 1999, DOE declared that in 25 years it would be able to cleanup all the plutonium-contaminated waste generated by the fabrication of the plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons and begin final facility closure.  As a result, the New Mexico state hazardous waste permit anticipates closure in 2024.  https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp/  and  WIPP Attachment G Closure Plan 02-202

DOE now wants no closure date when the permit is renewed next year.   https://wipp.energy.gov/2022-information-repository-documents.asp , see documents under Ten Year Permit Renewal Application.   That’s because DOE has no other waste repository.

But DOE plans to make new, more dangerous types of plutonium-contaminated waste and newly generated waste from ramping up the fabrication of the triggers, or plutonium pits, at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).  Those plans include the production of at least 30 pits per year at LANL.  DOE also proposes for LANL to process about 100,000 pounds of plutonium pits into powder form.  http://nuclearactive.org/new-mexico-governors-wipp-task-force-holds-meeting/

More waste means much more transportation for decades, including on the roadways around Santa Fe.

When faced with similar waste at the Rocky Flats Plant, Colorado said, “No more.”  Much of that waste was shipped to the Idaho National Laboratory, but Idaho said it could not stay and WIPP had to open.

You may ask:  Does New Mexico have the same rights and tools to prevent all of the waste from coming to WIPP?   The answer is, “Yes.”  The WIPP hazardous waste permit is one tool, and public involvement in the permit renewal is required.

In addition, a 1981 lawsuit by then Attorney General Jeff Bingaman against the DOE resulted in a legally enforceable Consultation and Cooperation Agreement that limits the amount of waste that may be disposed at WIPP.  http://nuclearactive.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Consultation-and-Cooperation-Agreement-as-of-August-1988cut.pdf

It’s time to demand that New Mexico use all its tools.  One place to do that is at the July 7th Community Forum.

To register for the Community Forum, go to https://www.wipp.energy.gov/wipp_news_20220623.asp


You are invited to join the WIPP and DOE Facility Mailing Lists 


Take the opportunity to participate in the ten-year renewal of the hazardous waste permit for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP)


The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) is required to maintain a WIPP Facility Mailing List to which you can add your name and address to get the latest information.

You can receive information by either email or snail mail—whichever you prefer.


Just email Ricardo Maestas at the Environment Department at ricardo.maestas@state.nm.us and ask to be added to the WIPP list.


Or mail your request to:


Ricardo Maestas

New Mexico Environment Department

Hazardous Waste Bureau

2905 Rodeo Park East, Bldg. 1

Santa Fe, NM 87505



WIPP also uses the facility mailing list to inform you about other opportunities

to provide public comments 


NMED is required by regulation to maintain a Facility Mailing List as part of its oversight of the WIPP Hazardous Waste Facility Permit (Permit). NMED, as well as the Department of Energy and Nuclear Waste Partnership, LLC (together, the Permittees), use this list to inform interested members of the public of public meetings, comment periods for proposed modifications to the permit and draft permits, final NMED administrative actions on permit decisions, and opportunities to appeal those actions, etc.


The Permittees are required per Permit Part 1, Section 1.11 to maintain a separate email notification list. The Permittees use this list to notify members of the public concerning actions such as reporting planned changes, reporting anticipated noncompliance, exceedance of repository Volatile Organic Compounds, etc.


If you wish to subscribe to the Permittees’ email notification list separately, email the WIPP Information Center at the following address: INFOCNTR@WIPP.WS


Listas de Correo de Permisos de la Instalación de Residuos Peligrosos de WIPP

El Departamento de Medio Ambiente de Nuevo México (NMED, por sus siglas en inglés) está obligado por reglamento a mantener una Lista de Correo de la Instalación como parte de la supervisión del Permiso de Instalación de Residuos Peligrosos (Permiso) de la Planta Piloto de Aislamiento de Residuos (WIPP, por sus siglas en inglés). El NMED, así como el Departamento de Energía y Nuclear Waste Partnership, LLC (colectivamente, los Permisionarios), utilizan esta lista para informar a las partes interesadas, incluidos miembros del público interesados, de los períodos de comentarios para las solicitudes de modificación de permisos, borradores de permisos y las acciones administrativas finales de NMED sobre las decisiones de permisos, etc. Si desea agregar su nombre a la Lista de Correo de la Instalación WIPP de NMED, notifique a Ricardo Maestas por correo electrónico a ricardo.maestas@state.nm.us, o por correo postal a Ricardo Maestas, New Mexico Environment Department-Hazardous Waste Bureau, 2905 Rodeo Park East, Bldg. 1, Santa Fe, NM 87505. Incluya su nombre, correo electrónico (método de comunicación preferido para ahorrar recursos) o dirección postal, y organización, si la hay.

Los Permisionarios están obligados, según la Sección 1.11 de la Parte 1 del Permiso a mantener una lista separada de notificaciones por correo electrónico. Los Permisionarios utilizan esta lista para notificar a los miembros del público sobre acciones como la notificación de cambios planificados, notificación de incumplimientos anticipados, exceso de depósito de Compuestos Orgánicos Volátiles, etc. Si desea suscribirse a la lista de notificaciones por correo electrónico de los Permisionarios, envíe un correo electrónico al Centro de Información de WIPP a la siguiente dirección: INFOCNTR@WIPP.WS.

  1. Friday, July 1st from noon to 1 pm – Join the weekly peaceful protest for nuclear disarmament on the corners of Alameda and Guadalupe in downtown Santa Fe. Celebrate the successful historic First Meeting of State Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and talk about next steps!



  1. Thursday, July 7th at 5: 30 pm – WIPP Community Forum & Open House at Santa Fe Convention Center in Okeefe and Milagro Rooms, 201 West Marcy Street, Santa Fe. In person and virtual.   Open house to follow where stakeholders can meet the WIPP leadership team.  Hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Carlsbad Field Office (CBFO) and Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC (NWP).  See today’s CCNS News Update.



  1. Tuesday, July 12th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm – LANL Meeting about proposed amendments to the TA-16-399 Closure Plan for Open Burning Treatment Unit at LANL. For more information, contact Steven Horak at envoutreach@lanl.gov



  1. Saturday, July 16th, at 7 am – 1 pm: 43rd Uranium Tailings Spill Legacy Commemoration – 12 miles north of Red Rock State Park on Hwy 566 near Church Rock, NM.  For more information, call 505 577-8438 and https://swuraniumimpacts.org/     FLYER: 2022 43rd Uranium Spill Commemoration Flyer



  1. Saturday, July 16th – 13th Annual Candlelight Vigil (beginning at 8 pm at the Little League Field) and Town Hall (from 2 to 4 pm at the Tularosa Community Center), Tularosa, NM. For more information, https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/  

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