Office of Environmental Management

DOE Finalizes WIPP Fire Investigation Report

March 14, 2014

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Washington, DC – Today, the Office of Environmental Management (EM) released the accident investigation report for the underground mine fire involving a salt haul truck at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico.

“The Accident Investigation Board report is a thorough examination of the events that led to the fire and the response to the fire once it was discovered. Obviously there are many lessons learned that can now be incorporated into the safe future operations of WIPP,” said, Matt Moury, EM Deputy Assistant Secretary, Safety, Security, and Quality Programs. “I would like to thank the Board Members for their efforts in drafting a report that will be helpful for the future safe operations of WIPP.”

“We welcome the thorough and honest review of the accident investigation team,” said, Joe Franco, DOE’s Carlsbad Field Office Manager. “We take these findings seriously, and in fact, we are already implementing many of the corrective actions in the report.”

During the official investigation, WIPP engaged in its own reviews and has already started implementing changes to ensure better focus on safety.  For example, a renewed emphasis is being placed on verifying that all the necessary preventative maintenance has been done on the equipment that will be used and workers are wearing appropriate personal protective equipment. The site is also building extra rigor into the planning and review processes as they prepare to send personnel into the mine to determine the source of the subsequent radiation leak, also the subject of a formal accident investigation.

A formal corrective action plan is being developed to address all of the concerns raised by the report. The corrective actions will also be tracked until completion and their effectiveness will be evaluated. 

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