The total overall cost of WIPP is estimate to be about $19 billion through its current license to 2035. That estimate was prepared before the 2014 incident which shuttered the facility for 2 ½ years while $500 million in safety upgrades could be implemented. WIPP resumed operation in 2016, by first taking all the radioactive waste that was temporarily stored at Waste Control Specialist in Andrews, TX in above ground safe storage canisters hidden out of public site within a standard medal building with off the shelf air conditioning. We are talking about a few million dollars for this safe DOE/NRC approved above ground storage.
I copied the following from the WIPP web site. It appears that WIPP is planning to expand and decided to completely rebuild/replace their entire ventilation and filtering system above ground.
“A proposed new underground ventilation system (NUVS) for WIPP would be constructed above-ground and would include a new filter building (52,677 ft2) and a building containing a salt reduction system (23,914 ft2). Building construction would consist of precast panels and cast-in-place concrete. The facility would include six 1,000 hp (nominal) exhaust fans, 22 nuclear air filtration HEPA units and two diesel generators, which would be provided as government-furnished property.”
The first thing I read into that paragraph was the billions of dollars not accounted for in the original overall estimate of WIPP cost stated above. However, that money will be spent in New Mexico. The second question that came to mind was how safe is safe and at what cost for a necessary underground ventilation system? And third thought is with Russia quitting the MOX recycling program with the US (sanctions have consequences) and is that allocated money being transferred with the plutonium to WIPP?
The radioactive material that should never be stored permanently in WIPP is the unused uranium fuel rods from commercial nuclear power plants, known as spent nuclear fuel. That radioactive material can be temporarily stored in concrete canister above ground so that the fuel will be accessible to use in the next generation nuclear reactor designs.
Waste Control Specialist in Andrews TX and Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance in Hobbs-Carlsbad NM have both applied to license above ground and partially below ground interim consolidated storage facility. This is guaranteed to bring some large sums of stable revenue to New Mexico.
To be continued…