Water management at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant draws concern

A modification to a wastewater discharge permit at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant nuclear waste repository near Carlsbad drew concerns the change could support the construction of a controversial utility shaft planned at the facility.

Construction of the shaft was recently paused by the New Mexico Environment Department when it denied renewal of a temporary authorization for the work ahead of required permit modification needed to use the shaft.

It would pull air into the underground where workers mine space for the waste and permanently emplace it in disposal panels.

More:WIPP: New panels to dispose of nuclear waste

Transuranic (TRU) waste consisting of clothing materials and equipment irradiated during nuclear activities is disposed of at WIPP by setting it in the underground salt deposit, about 2,000 feet underground, where salt is allowed to collapse in, blocking the radiation and entombing the waste.