Washington, DC (May 9, 2013) - Today, Congressman Pearce announced that he introduced H.R. 1879, which will address the impending job loss at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico.  WIPP is running out of material to process under its current limited mission, but has demonstrated that it has the capacity and ability to safely handle waste.  Rep. Pearce’s bill will allow WIPP to accept waste with the same characteristics as that which it already handles, from the federal government as a whole.  This legislation does not change the type of waste the facility accepts.  As a result, Rep. Pearce hopes that WIPP—which provides not only local jobs, but also an invaluable service to the nation—will be preserved well into the future.

“WIPP plays a key role in the safety of the nation and the state, as well as the economy of Carlsbad,” said Pearce.  “WIPP has demonstrated great success within its current mission and has safely removed over 85,000 cubic meters of waste from Department of Energy sites around the country.  Because of WIPP’s success, and its integral role in safely disposing of over 11,000 shipments of nuclear waste locally and nationwide, we must act now to protect the jobs at WIPP, which also support other jobs in the local community.  While modest, this proposal will help ensure that these important jobs remain in New Mexico.”

Currently, WIPP only handles transuranic (TRU) waste—exposed material such as gloves, clothing, tools, aprons, etc.—generated by the Department of Energy as part of a defense mission.  Under this limited mission, WIPP is expected to start losing jobs as it runs out of material to process, impacting the local economy.  Rep. Pearce’s bill does not alter the type or grade of waste handled by WIPP, maintaining restrictions to only federally-owned TRU waste that meets existing federal guidelines.  Accepting waste from federal sources other than the Department of Energy is a sufficient change to protect WIPP jobs.

State Rep. Catherine Brown of Carlsbad thanked Congressman Pearce for his work for New Mexico jobs.  “This legislation is a major step forward for the Carlsbad community and the future of New Mexico,” said Brown.  “WIPP provides a vital service to the country, and is an integral part of our local economy.  I am thankful for Congressman Pearce’s commitment to New Mexico’s jobs and our future.”

Congressman Pearce has also been in close contact with the mayor of Carlsbad and other local officials, who have expressed support of this important legislation. 

Congressman Pearce introduced similar legislation in the 112th Congress.