Study in Progress

Disposal of Surplus Plutonium in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

Submit a nomination to the study committee here

Statement of Task

The National Academies will evaluate the general viability of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) conceptual plans for disposing of surplus plutonium in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) to support U.S. commitments under the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement, identify gaps, and recommend actions that could be taken by DOE and others to address those gaps. This evaluation will specifically address the following issues:

1. DOE's plans to ship, receive, and emplace surplus plutonium in WIPP.
2. DOE's understanding of the impacts of these plans on the following:
a. Transportation safety, security, and regulatory compliance.
b. Current and future WIPP operations, including the need to construct additional waste disposal panels and/or operate WIPP beyond its currently planned closure date.
c. Disposal of other potential waste streams in WIPP, for example other plutonium wastes, Greater-than-Class-C-like wastes, and tank wastes.
d. WIPP pre- and post-closure safety and performance.
e. Compliance with WIPP waste acceptance criteria; Environmental Protection Agency disposal regulations; and The Land Withdrawal Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act requirements.

The Academies may examine policy options but should not make policy recommendations that require nontechnical value judgments.