DOE & WIPP: Truth & Consequences
* The Department of Energy intends to ship more than 27,000 loads of contact-handled radioactive waste and 7,957 shipments of remote-handled waste to WIPP. WIPP will hold less than 2% of DOE's existing nuclear weapons waste.
* The WIPP site is a 16-square-mile area with a 10,000 acre "secure area."
* The waste disposal level is 2,150 feet underground and consists of more than 60 "rooms" spread over 100 acres.
* WIPP will contain 6.2 million cubic feet of plutonium-contaminated trash.
* Taxpayer cost for WIPP: $14 to $15 million per month since the late 1980s, totaling more than $19 billion to date and no end to the spending.
* All three federal environmental impact statements for WIPP state that leaving the wastes where they are, even for a century, will result in less public radiation exposure than moving it to WIPP. (DOE's Sept. 1997 Final Supp. E.I.S.)
* The DOE's number of expected accidents involving Trupact-IIs [plutonium waste canisters]: 56; expected traffic injuries: 39; expected traffic deaths: 5; expected cancer deaths from radiation exposures with no accidents: 3.
* Fifty-five thousand pounds of plutonium is slated for dumping in WIPP. One pound of plutonium contains 454,000,000 human lethal doses.
* Trupact-II waste will be sealed in 55-gallon steel drums or steel boxes. Each Trupact-II can hold up to fourteen drums or two boxes.
* In a 1995 agreement between the state of Idaho and the U.S. Navy, the Navy agreed to remove 3,100 cubic meters, or about 15,000 drums, of transuranic waste from the Idaho National Laboratory, near Idaho Falls, by the end of 2002.
* The half-life of plutonium-239 (a predominant isotope in transuranic waste) is approximately 24,400 years. It takes plutonium-239 more than 240,000 years to decay.
* Before the WIPP was opened to accept waste, DOE had to accept "certification" from EPA that the waste could be isolated from the human environment for at least 10,000 years.
* Legally, only military transuranic wastes that have been stored for shipment since 1970, and NASA's nuclear waste, can be disposed of at the WIPP site.