WASTE ISOLATION PILOT PLANT MONITORING
The Carlsbad office of the DOE Oversight Bureau monitors a variety of environmental media at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) to assess the potential impacts of past and present activities.
General Environmental Monitoring
The DOE Oversight Bureau conducts multi-media environmental sampling on a periodic basis, and provides technical review services to the U.S. Department of Energy, Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC, and the public. Multi-media sampling includes soil, sediment, surface water, groundwater, vegetation, and volatile organic compounds.
The DOE Oversight Bureau monitors the exhaust air stream exiting the underground of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant site. Staff collects air filters for National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants contaminants. Filters are compiled monthly and shipped to an independent contract laboratory where they are analyzed for gross alpha and beta activity and the presence of americium-241, plutonium-238, plutonium-239/240, strontium-90, and gamma-emitting isotopes.
The DOE Oversight Bureau conducts independent continuous air monitoring to evaluate the presence of selected radioactive particles in the ambient air near WIPP. Ambient air is sampled with continuously running, low-volume air samplers drawing air through particulate filters. The DOE Oversight Bureau maintains six (6) air stations. Additionally, the Bureau maintains two (2) mobile solar-powered air-monitoring trailers that can be deployed for emergency monitoring. The filters are compiled quarterly by location and analyzed by an independent laboratory for gross alpha and beta activity and the presence of americium-241, plutonium-238, plutonium-239/240, strontium-90, and gamma-emitting isotopes. The program also allows for emergency ambient air monitoring for releases related to emergencies.
Direct Penetrating Radiation
The DOE Oversight Bureau monitors direct penetrating (DPR) radiation, or gamma radiation, in the environment at WIPP and in the vicinity for WIPP-sourced or ambient gamma radiation using passive electret ion chambers. The purpose of this project is to determine whether ambient gamma radiation on or near WIPP is equal to background.