Gene Balsmeier, chief operating officer and deputy project manager of Nuclear Waste Partnership, WIPP’s management and operations contractor, addresses a group of employees and family members in the WIPP underground. Photo Courtesy DOE-EM
A rare glimpse into the nation’s only underground nuclear waste repository near Carlsbad was the highlight of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’s (WIPP) two Family Day events in September and October. For the first time since WIPP began operating as a disposal facility more than two decades ago, families of WIPP employees could take a 75-person-capacity waste hoist 2,150 feet underground to tour a limited area, collect salt samples, and check displays explaining mining, bolting, and the emplacement of transuranic waste.
More than 350 employees and their family members viewed WIPP’s latest technology, an all-electric load haul dump truck that creates no hazardous emissions. It’s the first in a group of machines to cut emissions in the underground, making working conditions safer. Family tours included the contact-handled waste bay, fire station, and WIPP’s waste transportation trucks.
A youngster tries on bunker gear in the WIPP Fire Station during one of two Family Day events recently held at the facility. Photo Courtesy DOE-EM