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WIPP begins preliminary work on PVS

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(Courtesy Photo)
(Courtesy Photo)

Preliminary work has begun to determine the feasibility of constructing a new Permanent Ventilation System (PVS) that will include a new filter building and a new exhaust shaft at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

Activities include drilling multiple boreholes and the collection of core samples at various depths. Data collected from the drilling/coring activity will provide information for the building design team on geologic support capacity, seismic design parameters and building foundation design requirements.

The design for the new PVS will include a new, unfiltered exhaust shaft and a 55,000-square-foot ventilation building installed east of the existing ventilation system. The new ventilation building will replace the existing exhaust system, which filters air exiting the underground through high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.

The PVS ventilation building will use the existing air exhaust shaft and provide a modern, safety-significant confinement ventilation system with an exhaust capacity up to 540,000 cubic feet per minute. The new ventilation building will contain 22 separate HEPA filter banks to filter the exhaust air exiting the underground.

The new unfiltered exhaust shaft, the second part of the PVS, will enable a dual airflow circuit in the WIPP underground. The two elements of the PVS will allow concurrent waste emplacement, maintenance, bolting activities and mining operations with the separate airflow circuits. Separate airflow circuits are necessary because salt dust from mining operations will otherwise clog the HEPA.

Due to the current limited airflow conditions in the WIPP underground, waste emplacement and mining activities will need to be conducted separately when operations resume.

All exhaust air is filtered because certain areas of the WIPP underground remain contaminated as a result of the radiological event of February 2014.

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