Regional
5:40 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Udall, Heinrich Urge President To Revise Budget To Address Changes At Carlsbad Nuclear Waste Site

 

Credit Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)

  U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich urge President Obama to send Congress an amendment to his Fiscal Year 2015 Budget to ensure that the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) has the funding it needs to continue implementing the recommendations of the Department of Energy's (DOE) Accident Investigation Boards, including required changes in design and operation. A fire and radiation release earlier this year have left WIPP closed while the Department of Energy investigates the root cause of the accidents and develops a recovery plan for WIPP.

The president's original FY15 budget request included $220.5 million to maintain and operate WIPP, but did not account for the impact of the two accidents.

WIPP is the nation's only deep geologic repository for transuranic nuclear weapons waste and an integral part of the environmental clean-up of Cold War programs at DOE defense sites around the country.  

The Senators wrote in a letter to the President, "Though a preliminary recovery plan for WIPP has been discussed with our offices, an official position from the Administration and the DOE has not been provided to Congress.  As Congressional committees begin work on the FY15 appropriations bills, to ensure transparency we believe a revised budget justification that addresses all critical needs for recovery of WIPP should be completed and an amended budget request submitted to Congress as soon as possible.  Additionally, WIPP is likely to require recovery spending in FY16 and we urge you to give consideration to the extra amounts needed to restore full operations at WIPP."

Full text of the Senators' letter is below:

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write to urge you to send to Congress a budgetary amendment for your Fiscal Year 2015 Budget.  Your FY15 request for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico, would provide $220.5 million.  As you know, WIPP is the nation's only deep geologic repository for transuranic nuclear weapons waste and an integral part of the environmental clean-up of Cold War programs at Department of Energy (DOE) defense sites around the country.  A fire and radiation release earlier this year have left WIPP closed while the Department of Energy investigates the root cause of the accidents and develops a recovery plan for WIPP.

We believe it is essential that WIPP have the funding it needs in FY15 to continue implementing the recommendations of the Accident Investigation Boards, including required changes in design and operation. Though a preliminary recovery plan for WIPP has been discussed with our offices, an official position from the Administration and the DOE has not been provided to Congress.  As Congressional committees begin work on the FY15 appropriations bills, to ensure transparency we believe a revised budget justification that addresses all critical needs for recovery of WIPP should be completed and an amended budget request submitted to Congress as soon as possible.  Additionally, WIPP is likely to require recovery spending in FY16 and we urge you to give consideration to the extra amounts needed to restore full operations at WIPP.

The safety and security of the WIPP workers and community is paramount and a comprehensive investigation of both accidents still must be completed.  We are eager to see the facility reopened, but want to ensure that it is done with proper oversight and careful deliberation to provide the community with the confidence they need to allow operations and safe storage of defense legacy waste to continue.

Sincerely,

TOM UDALL          
United States Senator                                                

MARTIN HEINRICH
United States Senator