Waste Isolation Pilot Plant 1999 Site Environmental Report Page: 4 of 289
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1999 Site Environmental Report
The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE)
Carlsbad Area Office and the Westinghouse
Waste Isolation Division (WID) are dedicated to
maintaining high quality management of Waste
Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) environmental
resources. DOE Order 5400.1, General
Environmental Protection Program, and DOE
Order 231.1, Environmental, Safety, and Health
Reporting, require that the environment at and
near DOE facilities be monitored to ensure the
safety and health of the public and the
environment. This Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
1999 Site Environmental Report summarizes
environmental data from calendar year 1999 that
characterize environmental management
performance and demonstrate compliance with
federal and state regulations.
This report was prepared in accordance with
DOE Order 5400.1, DOE Order 231.1, the
Environmental Regulatory Guide forRadiological
Effluent Monitoring and Environmental
Surveillance (DOE/EH- 0173T), and the Waste
Isolation Pilot Plant Environmental Protection
Implementation Plan (DOE/WIPP 96-2199). The
above orders and guidance documents require that
DOE facilities submit an Annual Site
Environmental Report to DOE Headquarters,
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Environment,
Safety, and Health. The purpose of this report is
to provide a comprehensive description of
operational environmental monitoring activities,
to provide an abstract of environmental activities
conducted to characterize site environmental
management performance to confirm compliance
with environmental standards and requirements,
and to highlight significant programs and efforts
of environmental merit at WIPP during calendar
WIPP received its first shipment of waste on
March 26, 1999. In 1999, no evidence was found
of any adverse effects from WIPP on the
surrounding environment. Radionuclide con-
centrations in the environment surrounding WIPP
were not statistically higher in 1999 than in 1998.
Located in southeastern New Mexico, WIPP
is the world's first underground repository
permitted to safely and permanently dispose of
transuranic (TRU) radioactive and mixed waste
generated through the research and production of
nuclear weapons and other activities related to the
national defense of the United States. TRU mixed
waste is TRU waste mixed with hazardous waste
regulated under the Resource Conservation and
Recovery Act (RCRA). Transuranic waste
consists of material contaminated with elements
with atomic numbers greater than uranium, the
heaviest natural element. Most TRU waste is
contaminated industrial trash, such as rags, old
tools, and rubbish from dismantled buildings.
WIPP's legislative mandate is to demonstrate
the safe disposal of TRU wastes from national
defense activities and programs. To fulfill this
mandate, WIPP has been designed to safely
handle, store, and dispose of TRU waste in a
fully-operational disposal facility. When waste
arrives at WIPP, it is placed in excavated storage
rooms, carved from rock salt, 655 m (2,150 ft)
below the earth's surface. The nature of the salt
is such that after a storage room has been filled,
the salt will slowly fill the remaining spaces, thus
isolating the waste for thousands of years.
Environmental Program Information
It is DOE's policy to conduct its operations at
WIPP in compliance with all applicable
environmental laws and regulations, and to
safeguard the integrity of the southeastern New
Mexico environment. This is accomplished
through radiological and nonradiological
environmental monitoring programs and land
management programs, which include wildlife
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Evans, Roy B.; Luft, Amy Adams; Martin, Don; Morris, Randall C.; Reynolds, Timothy D.; Warren, Ronald W. et al. Waste Isolation Pilot Plant 1999 Site Environmental Report, report, September 2000; Carlsbad, New Mexico. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc737575/m1/4/: accessed May 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.