Quality Assurance for the First Recertification of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

2003 Radiochemistry Conference, Carlsbad, NM

Kathleen Byle, Sandia National Laboratories

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), run by the US Department of Energy (DOE), is the only licensed, operational geologic repository in the world for transuranic nuclear waste generated by defense activities associated with nuclear weapons production. The WIPP was first certified for disposal of transuranic waste in 1998. It is scheduled for recertification by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the regulator for WIPP, in 2004. A successful recertification will depend on DOE’s ability to demonstrate continued compliance with 40 CFR 191 and 40 CFR 194, the regulations that govern WIPP. Each and every process supporting recertification, for example; gathering scientific data or implementing models to simulate repository performance, is governed by strict regulatory controls and a mature Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) Quality Assurance (QA) Program. The challenge WIPP faces in terms of implementing a comprehensive QA program is interpretation of upper-tier regulatory requirements and law. This presents a challenge as the upper tier standards were developed for facilities with different missions than WIPP (commercial nuclear power plants for example). Changes implemented as operational since the CCA must be incorporated into the approved baseline models from the CCA with proper QA change controls in place. The QA controls in place must provide the regulator with confidence that the site is safe for 10, 000 years. This presentation/poster will discuss the QA challenges WIPP faces and will continue to face in the future.