Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

Dr. Gary L. ScottAuthorization Basis Senior Technical Advisor and Nuclear Safety Specialist 
United States Department of Energy, Carlsbad Field Office

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is the world’s first underground repository licensed to safely and permanently dispose of transuranic (TRU) radioactive waste the is left from the research and production of nuclear weapons.  It is located approximately 20 miles east of Carlsbad, New Mexico.  TRU waste is placed in rooms 2,150 feet (655m) underground that have been excavated from a 2,000 foot (600m) thick salt formation that has been stable for more than 200 million years.  Because salt is somewhat plastic and will flow to seal any cracks that develop, it was chosen as a host medium for the WIPP project.

Carlsbad Field Office (CBFO) is the lead DOE office responsible for managing, planning, integrating and implementing TRU waste management activities at DOE facilities throughout the United States.  The CBFO directs and coordinates all activities related to the characterization, treatment, measurement, packaging, and transport of TRU waste the generator sites, as well as disposal operations of TRU waste at WIPP.  The WIPP facility is characterized as a Category II non-reactor nuclear facility based on hazards and accident scenarios driven by a promulgated rule (10CFR830) which also establishes the nuclear license regulated by the Department of Energy.  Safety Management Programs are institutionalized to ensure protection of the worker, public, and environment, especially the radiation protection program which is mandated under promulgated rule 10CFR835.  Currently, the CBFO is experiencing a shortage of qualified individuals to oversee the implementation of contractor programs associated with radiation protection.  We are concerned with strict compliance to the rule, which is an enforceable law.  We seek individuals that have completed or are in the process of completing degrees at the bachelor level and higher in Health Physics to join our team either through the intern program or as a full-time employee.