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Ventilation Design and Technical Support Play Key Role in Nuclear Waste Repository’s Recovery

John Bowling, Keith Wallace
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
First presented: 
Mine Ventilation
Mine Ventilation Services (MVS), newly merged into SRK’s US practice, has been involved with the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) project since 1988. The WIPP is a nuclear waste repository approximately 2,200 ft underground in New Mexico. MVS assisted with the facility’s original ventilation design as well as numerous ventilation and instrumentation upgrades since its opening. MVS has also periodically reviewed the WIPP’s ventilation system and updated its ventilation system control set points during recurring test and balance procedures.
In February 2014, a radioactive release occurred at the WIPP, contaminating parts of the facility and the ventilation system. Immediately after the incident, MVS was brought in to help with the recovery effort. MVS provided input based on numerical modeling to inform decisions about response actions, using the VnetPC Pro+ software developed by MVS. As recovery efforts progressed, MVS developed modified ventilation schemes for operation with severely limited ventilation airflow, developed strategies for recovery operations such as filter replacement with minimal impact on the underground facility, and designed and modeled a new interim ventilation system.
On January 4th, 2017, WIPP resumed its mission of nuclear waste emplacement, the primary goal of nearly three years of recovery efforts. Modeling work performed by MVS was used to explore the limitations of the new ventilation system design and to inform the new technical safety requirements that define the parameters for the facility’s safe operation. A team of MVS engineers, led by MVS Practice Leader Keith Wallace, provided the expertise and software tools needed for this valuable Department of Energy facility to resume its mission.

Feature Author

Keith Wallace
Mr. Wallace has over 30 years of underground ventilation experience. He manages a small team of engineers in the design and implementation of underground mine ventilation systems for mining and civil projects around the world. Worldwide there are less than five firms that specialize in only underground mine ventilation.
Mr. Wallace has been active in the ventilation community by serving on the executive committee of the Underground Ventilation Committee of the Society of Mining Engineers, publishing over 30 papers on various aspects of ventilation and was the editor of the 12th US/North American Mine Ventilation Symposium. He has been in involved with numerous ventilation studies at both metal/non-metal mines, coal mines and tunnel construction projects throughout the world. Mr. Wallace is also active in developing ventilation software and organizing and has conducted over 40 workshops on ventilation planning and design to mining professionals.
Mine Ventilation Specialist
MS Eng. Mineral Engineering, Underground Ventilation
SRK Clovis
John Bowling

Mr. Bowling has over 6 years of experience in mine ventilation system design and analyses for metal, non-metal, and coal mines around the world. He plans, coordinates and conducts ventilation surveys and audits of underground mines and other facilities. John also teaches short courses in underground mine ventilation, measurement, planning and modeling. He manages the NQA-1 quality assurance program for SRK’s work in subsurface nuclear facilities and is a licensed professional engineer in Nevada and New Mexico.

Mine Ventilation Specialist
SRK Clovis
SRK North America