17 years since the facility opened, the nation’s nuclear landscape has changed. WIPP remains the world’s only underground geological repository for nuclear waste, and a confluence of budget constraints, geopolitical issues, the threat of terrorists obtaining nuclear materials and other concerns have led many to consider whether WIPP’s mission should be expanded to include not only higher levels of waste from the U.S. but also waste from around the world. Plans are already in motion to accept plutonium from Japan. The U.S. now has 61.5 metric tons of plutonium that require a path to disposal — a path that increasingly points to WIPP, despite vulnerabilities exposed by an underground truck fire at the plant in 2014 and an unrelated radiation leak that followed days later, shutting down the plant for the past two years. Officials say it might reopen by the year’s end.
Sante Fe New Mexican 10th April 2016 read more »