Utility shaft at WIPP debated before New Mexico Environment Department

A new exhaust shaft could be built at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant nuclear waste repository near Carlsbad, which supporters argued would improve airflow and access to the underground section of the facility where waste is permanently disposed of in an underground saltbed.

Opponents of the project argued the shaft was also intended to extend WIPP’s operations beyond the previous closure date of 2024 prescribed in the facility’s permit with the New Mexico Environment Department.

A new permit was being drafted and the closure date was likely to be pushed back, but to build the shaft the U.S. Department of Energy must acquire a modification of the current permit from NMED.

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