NMED Issues Final Determination For Waste Isolation Pilot Plant 10-Year Renewal Permit


On Thursday, October 4, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) signed a Final Order approving a Proposed Final Permit for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) Hazardous Waste Facility Ten-Year Renewal. The Final Order comes after completion of 9 months of public comment and will become effective on November 3, 2023.

“The new permit will benefit New Mexico and legacy waste clean-up from around the U.S. for years to come,” said New Mexico Environment Department Cabinet Secretary James Kenney. 

The permit went through a thorough public engagement process. The original draft of the permit resulted in a settlement agreement reached on June 23, 2023, involving the Department of Energy and Salado Isolation Mining Contractors, LLC, co-permittees, NMED, and interested persons who opposed the draft permit and requested a hearing. On August 15, 2023, the proposed final permit was published, which was the original draft permit with changes agreed upon during the settlement.

As agreed to during the negotiations, NMED extended the public comment period for the renewal permit until September 22, 2023, coinciding with an NMED public meeting, which was made available online via WebEx, and in-person at locations in Carlsbad and Santa Fe. The final permit will become effective in 30 days on Nov. 3, 2023.

The WIPP facility was authorized by Congress for the disposal of transuranic (TRU) radioactive waste materials generated by atomic energy defense activities of the United States.

Documents associated with this action and a link to the final permit and NMED’s response to comments can be found on NMED’s WIPP News website at https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp/.