WIPP grows shipments of nuclear waste as COVID-19 appears to recede

Mitigating the spread of COVID-19 meant slowing shipments of nuclear waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant repository near Carlsbad, as staffing was lowered to avoid infections of the virus.

At the peak of the health crisis last winter, shipments declined to five a week – about half of the pre-pandemic shipment rate of about 10 per week.

As vaccines became increasingly available this summer and infection numbers dropped, shipments of the waste were increased to as high as 12 a week last month while the facility’s goal is to average 10.

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In two years, shipments were hoped to increase to 17 per week, per a news release from the U.S. Department of Energy.