Concerns Relating to the Effluent Air Sampling for the WIPP Exhaust Shaft


S. B. Webb, T. M. Klein, G. Anastas, L. E. Allen


The purpose of the New Mexico Environmental Evaluation Group (EEG) is to conduct an independent technical evaluation of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) to ensure the protection of the public health and safety and the environment of New Mexico. EEG oversight includes air effluent monitoring to verify compliance with radiation dose limits from the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants. The WIPP, located in southeastern New Mexico, became operational in March 1999 for the underground disposal of transuranic radioactive wastes generated by the national defense programs. Station A, at the top of the repository exhaust shaft, provides an effluent air sample of record for regulatory purposes. A major difficulty has been the inflow of water into the exhaust shaft that causes differential salt build-up in the sampling probes across the shaft. The inflow of water into the exhaust shaft continues unabated. Also, current results of the required ANSI performance tests for Station A are not available and uncertainty exists as to whether the station always collects samples representative of the repository effluent air. In order to provide a more reliable estimate of the annual radiation dose to the public, EEG recommends that WIPP 1) demonstrate compliance with ANSI air sampling standards at Station A, or 2) enhance its current repository air sampling program at the base of the exhaust shaft, and/or 3) augment its environmental monitoring programs.


This abstract was presented at the 37th Annual Midyear Meeting, "Air Monitoring and Internal Dosimetry", Effluent and Environmental Monitoring Session, 2/8/2004 - 2/11/2004, held in Augusta, GA.

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