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Hazardous Materials Medical Preparedness Program

The primary duties of the task force include negotiating on behalf of the State of New Mexico with the federal government in all areas relating to the siting, licensing, and operation of new federal disposal facilities for high-level, transuranic, and low-level radioactive wastes.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) site is located 26 miles southeast of Carlsbad, New Mexico in an area known as Los Medanos ("the dunes").

This area of New Mexico is relatively flat and is used primarily for grazing.Potash mining and oil exploration and production are quite prevalent in the area. Fewer than 50 people live within 10 miles surrounding the WIPP site and only 50,000 live in the entire county.

WIPP is essentially a very sophisticated salt mine designed for the permanent disposal of Transuranic Wastes (TRU) generated from defense-related activities (i.e., research and development of nuclear weapons). The repository itself is 2,150 feet (655 meters) below the surface of the earth in the Salado Formation. Waste disposal, is currently underway by placing the waste in tunnels and chambers dug by state-of-the-art mining methods located in a 3,000-foot-thick salt formation at 1,250 feet above sea level and 2,150 feet below the surface.

Mission

To represent the interests of the State of New Mexico regarding the safe and uneventful transportation of nuclear waste in and through the state.

The NMDOH WIPP/Hazmat Medical Preparedness Coordinator Tim Yackey:

  • Provides training in Radiation Emergency Medical Response to first responders, emergency medical responders and hospital responders
  • Provides training in Hazardous Materials/Disaster Response
  • Centralized distributor of DTPA (drug that binds heavy metals - for use in possible internal radioactive materials contamination) for New Mexico – users are tracked for life
  • Tracks the distribution and use of DTPA
  • Distributes radiation response equipment to first responders and ensures that all responders have the appropriate equipment
  • In coordination with other WIPP Working Group (WWG) members, exchanges for recalibration and distributes radiation detection/monitoring equipment
  • Coordinates with other WWG members on the provision of emergency response training

Visit the Radioactive Waste Consultation Task Force website for more information.


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