In 1957, the National Academy of Sciences concluded that the most promising disposal option for radioactive wastes was burial in deep geologic repositories situated in salt formations. In 1981, after decades of study, the United States initiated construction of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) at a desert site 41.6 km (26 miles) southeast of Carlsbad, New Mexico. This paper provides an overview of the history and the regulatory and public process to permit a repository for disposal of transuranic wastes. In addition, the process to ensure its long-term operation in a safe and environmentally sound manner will also be discussed.

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