The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Nuclear Waste Depository in New Mexico

WIPP stands for Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.  It is 26 miles east of Carlsbad, New Mexico, in the Southeastern part of the state.  It is designed to hold transuranic waste, mostly plutonium-based, from the nations nuclear weapons labs, and the only permanent waste storage facility for that type of waste, designed to store it  for 10,000 years.  After more than 20 years of battles to open it, with government agencies and citizens groups campaigning on different sides throughout these years, it officially opened to store waste on March 26, 1999.

The activist group Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping (CARD) was active in the struggle to fight the opening of WIPP.  Go to their website ( to get more details about WIPP and the campaigns against it.  Tons of documents are also at the archives of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

Another protest of note against WIPP was an individual one by Charles Hyder, a physicist who went on a fast in protest of its opening.  He declared “either WIPP dies or I die.”  He went into unconsciousness and was convinced by friends to end the fast and do more by living.  His website is here: (  One interesting piece on his website:

“Charles is also very sanguine about the lack of support for his protest, and the lack of public and media interest in it. He was ignored almost entirely, except for shallow “human interest” angles stimulated by the fast. There was no media or general public comprehension of WIPP and the science entailed in evaluating WIPP and no interest in gaining any real comprehension.”

And furthermore on the other protests against WIPP:

“Charles was out ahead of the other organized protests against WIPP — too far out, and too far ahead. The most active leaders in the organizations dedicated to preventing the opening of WIPP opposed his fast altogether and their own protest was tardy, ineffectual [as his was] and almost non-existent. There was no real civil disobedience and no success at gaining media attention. And Charles, alone at the WIPP site for the first three months of WIPP operation, was ignored, as much by the protesters as by the media.”

An accurate analysis of the nature of liberal protests overall in the United States.  One could write many term papers on the protest movements against WIPP, as well as the broader anti-nuclear movements.  Nevertheless those movements had their successes as well as their failures.  They prevented more nuclear power plants from being built in the U.S., but nuclear weapons production continues.  With the disaster at Fukishima in Japan, it will be interesting to observe if the anti-nuclear movement makes a comeback.

Back to Hyder, his website goes on about the dangers of plutonium and its threat to the survival of human species.  For instance:

 “Future technology will not save us from uncontained poison. No future technology will be able to treat successfully the entire planet. Dr. Hyder believes that all humans will be extinct by 2300 A.D., due to radioactive contamination of our planet during the 20th, 21st and 22nd centuries.”

Now the anti-nuclear movement, as well as the environmental movement in general, is prone to announcing doomsday apocalyptic scenarios.  Of course this is in contrast to the deceitful reassurances of government agencies and officials.

Hyder wrote a book “Human Survival on a Plutonium-Contaminated Planet” available from his website above.  He passed away on June 8, 2004.  Hyder was an activist, an eccentric, a man determined to make changes in a world he saw on the brink of disaster.  Many others like him attempted to do something about this war machine and its byproducts.  We can at least remember him and what he did, as well as others who did the same.

As of now WIPP is open and continues to accept waste from the nuclear weapons labs of the U.S.  I would encourage readers to review the links on this page to get more knowledge about WIPP itself.  A detailed analysis of WIPP is beyond the capabilities of this blog at the time.  In future articles I will go through my archives to bring up certain issues related to WIPP, another part of the military encroachment in New Mexico.  Also it will be an opportunity to look at the many nuclear related issues in New Mexico.


About elloborojo

Okay, as the subtitle states, this is a notebook from what I call a New Mexico diaspora (look up diaspora if you are asking). I was a former resident of New Mexico, now living elsewhere, but New Mexico is still my homeland. To get more in touch with your homeland one must be away from it. This is my attempt to understand it. I was a former anti-militarism activist in the Albuquerque area. Still believe that United Snakes militarism is the greatest threat to the world, as do the majority of the worlds population. Uncovered much information about the ties in New Mexico, but never processed it all. This blog is an attempt to do that. Also hope it may come of use to others with similar interests.
This entry was posted in Carlsbad, Nuclear, Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). Bookmark the permalink.

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