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Underground rockfall at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant reports rock fall as underground salt buries nuclear waste

Adrian Hedden  Carlsbad Current-Argus, 30 July 20

A pair of rock falls were reported at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’s underground repository for nuclear waste, as salt in the underground gradually collapses to bury nuclear waste.

The falls were reported to have occurred between July 20 and 27 in an area closed off to workers, and were discovered on Wednesday after a geotechnical device showed a reading the suggested an increased closure rate.

Closure in WIPP’s underground occurs when the salt its built into slowly collapses.   The creeping process is used to permanently bury drums of low-level transuranic (TRU) nuclear waste, and rock falls occur routinely in areas that are closed off to workers and ground control efforts are cease.

To control the creep and allow for safe operations such as waste emplacement, bolts are installed into the walls of the underground to temporarily slow the creep.

WIPP spokesman Donavan Mager said the recent rock falls were in an area that had been closed off to workers and had not had recent ground control measures. ……

The discovery of the falls was made during a routine weekly review of the geotechnical data, and WIPP personnel investigated the reading as a precautionary measure, Mager said.

“It was a prohibited area, but they thought they would check it out,” he said. “Depending on how an instrument is operating, we can see if salt is creeping or closing.”

August 4, 2020 - Posted by | general

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