The U.S. Department of Energy selected a Bechtel company to manage the nation’s only deep underground repository for nuclear waste: the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico. The site has been operating since 1999, receiving shipments from 22 sites across the country.
DOE oversees WIPP, which is the nation’s only deep geologic repository for transuranic waste, or TRU waste. This defense-generated TUR waste consists of items contaminated with plutonium and other man-made radioactive isotopes. WIPP receives regular shipments from the generator sites and is responsible for emplacing the shipments in the repository.
The repository is 2,100 feet below the surface and consists of underground tunnels and storage rooms. Sited in a bedded salt formation, the waste emplaced in disposal rooms at WIPP will be encapsulated in salt through natural geologic processes, safely isolating the waste for thousands of years.