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WIPP permit modification hearing

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A hearing is going on all week that is very important to the future of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. WIPP is seeking a permit modification request allowing for the excavation of a new shaft and associated connecting drifts at WIPP. The New Mexico Environment Department supports this modification request, but some northern New Mexico organizations, who have been opposing WIPP for decades, are trying to stop it.

In fact, over the weekend, a guest editorial in the Santa Fe New Mexican provided some very misleading information and encouraged people to oppose this hearing. While it gets frustrating having misinformed people hundreds of miles away decide they know what is in our best interest, the sad truth is that we’re used to this adversity. For decades, Carlsbad residents have said that they will support utilizing WIPP for defense-generated transuranic waste. In return, we have high expectations that this project be handled safely and hold the DOE to its original promise that WIPP jobs remain in southeastern New Mexico. That remains the case. We have overcome ill-informed opposition in the past. 

WIPP has been a great neighbor for Carlsbad. The project’s transportation safety record is the absolute best in the industry and members of the community have a great deal of confidence in this project. We’re also proud to be helping with an important national goal, and we enjoy hearing that our facility here is the gem of the Department of Energy. 

I will be speaking in strong support of this permit modification request. I have spoken with men and women who work in the WIPP underground and their voice is what matters the most. They tell me that the new shaft will improve the ventilation process at WIPP. We owe it to our workforce to restore the ventilation process in the WIPP underground to being fully operational. Carlsbad is a mining community, and even those who do not work at WIPP here understand the importance of a ventilation system. This shaft does not change the mission at WIPP, the type of material being sent to WIPP or the volume capacity at WIPP.  The Class 3 permitting process that the NMED has followed has been very extensive, and there have been several periods for public comment. 

The hearing began at noon on Monday and will last at least through Wednesday. Public comments are being accepted from noon to 1 p.m. and from 6 to 7 p.m. each day. You can participate in the Zoom meeting by joining with a passcode of 050223. If you can’t make the hearing, please email comments to

The citizens of Carlsbad and southeastern New Mexico are the most important stakeholders when it comes to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. We will always support improvements that protect the safety of our workforce.


Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway

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