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CARLSBAD, NM, September 14, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- The Carlsbad Department of Development has joined with other groups in southeastern New Mexico in issuing a call for support for conducting thermal studies at the nearby Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or WIPP, is the Department of Energy's underground repository for defense-generated transuranic (TRU) waste. The WIPP facility, located 26 miles outside of Carlsbad, permanently disposes of TRU waste in thick salt beds 2,150 beneath the surface.
In July, the CDOD passed Resolution 2013-01: "Support for the Thermal Studies at WIPP." The resolution, signed by CDOD President Don George, says the economic development body voted to "acknowledge our nation's need for additional scientific and social confirmation of the safe disposal of thermally hot DHLW (Defense High Level Waste) in salt, and do hereby support the use of WIPP for field tests associated with this confirmation process, and do hereby request that the DOE EM provide FY 13 and out-year funding for said tests to be managed by DOE EM Carlsbad Field Office."
Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce President Judith Waters signed a similar document on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce. In August, Carlsbad's City Council and the Eddy County Board of Commissioners both passed similar resolutions in support of conducting thermal studies at WIPP. The Carlsbad area's four state elected officials - Rep. Bill Gray, Rep. Cathrynn Brown, Senator Vernon Asbill and Senator Carroll Leavell, also signed a similar resolution. Finally, the members of the Carlsbad Mayor's Nuclear Task Force also issued a statement in support of the thermal testing.
"Elected bodies and business groups from across Southeastern New Mexico are all saying this is the best path forward," said John Waters, executive director of the CDOD. "The Department of Energy's office of Environmental Management has an obligation to dispose of its defense-generated high level waste. The salt formation around WIPP is one of the most studied geologic structures on the planet," said Waters. "A salt repository could be the answer, but there are a few more scientific questions to answer before it is resolved. It makes sense to do the field testing necessary to answer those questions here at WIPP."
Waters said the CDOD's resolution notes that such confirmation should include generic field tests.
"Basically, this field test would be a demonstration to show how waste that generates a small amount of heat might behave in salt," he said. "Such a test has multiple benefits, but it especially helps members of the public to really understand how a process could be conducted safely."
The State of New Mexico has also indicated a desire to see such field tests. These generic field tests would not use any radioactive material, would not interfere with WIPP's mission, and would not indicate any site preference for the eventual disposal of DHLW. WIPP would, however, serve as the most readily-available and affordable laboratory for such a demonstration.
"To date, Governor Martinez, New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Martin, each of our area state representatives, Carlsbad Mayor Janway, the Carlsbad City Council, the Eddy County Commission, the Carlsbad Department of Development and the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce have all expressed their belief to the Department of Energy that this project is necessary," Waters said. "If the Department of Energy is at all serious about community consent and solving the nation's nuclear waste problem, I encourage it to address this nationally pressing need."
A copy of the CDOD's resolution is available at the CDOD Nuclear website, www.NuclearFuelCycleSummit.org. Additional community resolutions are available by visiting www.carlsbadnuclearnexus.com and clicking on the "Resources" tab.
The Carlsbad Department of Development promotes the economic and general welfare of the citizens of the City of Carlsbad and South Eddy County, New Mexico.
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