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WIPP Transportation Safety Program Laws and Regulations

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WIPP Land Withdrawal Act

The guiding legislation for WIPP:

PUBLIC LAW 102-579


as amended by Public Law 104-201 (H.R. 3230, 104th Congress)

EPA Certification

DOE must obtain a permit from EPA (under 40 CFR Part 191) to dispose of the radioactive constituents in the WIPP waste. EPA’s Criteria for the Certification and Re-Certification of the WIPP [Federal Register, February 9, 1996 (Volume 61, Number 28), Pages 5223-5245. From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access (Size 15.8K)] can be accessed on the Internet. DOE submitted a Compliance Certification Application to EPA in October 1996. EPA’s draft certification was issued on October 30, 1997. EPA held hearings and accepted public comment on the draft certification. The final permit was issued in mid-May 1998 and the DOE Secretary notified Congress of their intent to open WIPP.


RCRA: Regulations on Hazardous Waste (i.e., chemical waste) The repository must meet requirements of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) for the hazardous constituents in the WIPP waste by submitting a “Part B” permit application to the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) which has been delegated RCRA authority by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

DOE submitted its final RCRA Part B application to NMED in April 1996. NMED reviewed the application and issued a draft permit on May 15, 1998, which was available for public comment through August 15, 1998 (see more on the announcement of draft permit). On November 13, 1998, NMED issued a revised draft permit and a notice of public hearings (see more on the notice of the revised draft and public hearing). Public hearings were held and the Secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department issued a final permit on October 27, 1999. This permit will become effective on November 26, 1999. Final RCRA Part B Permit.

The WIPP Land Withdrawal Act contains a very stringent standard regarding the release of radioactive materials to the accessible environment. Message to 12,000 A.D. provides some perspective on how to prevent future societies from breaching the site. The information contained at this site is all about warning future generations to avoid drilling into the WIPP site. This is important since some of the TRU waste remains radioactive for tens-of-thousands of years.

Radiactive and Hazardous Materials Act

The Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Act [Section 74-4A-2 through 74-4A-14 NMSA 1978] authorizes the Radioactive Waste Consultation Task Force and specifies its duties and responsibilities.