Proceedings in Radiochemistry
A Supplement to Radiochimica Acta
Environmental monitoring of radioactive and non-radioactive constituents in the vicinity of WIP
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), a US Department of Energy (DOE) facility, is a deep geologic transuranic waste disposal site designed for the safe disposal of transuranic (TRU) wastes generated from the US defense program. Monitoring is a key component of the development and operation of any nuclear repository and is important to the WIPP performance assessment. Initial concerns over the release of radioactive and chemical contaminants from the WIPP led to various monitoring programs, including the independent, academic-based WIPP environmental monitoring (WIPP-EM) program conducted by the New Mexico State University (NMSU) Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center (CEMRC) located in Carlsbad, NM. The mission of CEMRC is to develop and implement an independent health and environmental monitoring program in the vicinity of WIPP and make the results easily accessible to the public and all interested parties. Under the WIPP-EM program constituents monitored include: (1) selected radionuclides, elements, and ions of interest in air, soil, vegetation, drinking water, surface water and sediment from within a 100-mile radius of WIPP as well as in the air exiting the WIPP exhaust shaft, and (2) internally deposited radionuclides in the citizenry living within a 100-mile radius of WIPP. This article presents an evaluation of more than tens years of environmental monitoring data that informed the public that there is no evidence of increases in radiological contaminants in the region that could be attributed to releases from the WIPP. Such an extensive monitoring program and constant public engagement is an ideal model for all nuclear waste repositories anywhere in the world.