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Save New Mexico: Stop the Sacrifice of Our People and Resources

Seven Generations 2020

Unidentified Artist
Save New Mexico: Stop the Sacrifice of Our People and Resources
1981
lithograph on paper
23 x 17 3/8 in.
Albuquerque Museum, gift of Diane Palley
PC2020.34.232

Tucked into the bottom of this poster is the phrase “Stop W.I.P.P.” The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or WIPP, in Carlsbad, New Mexico, is a nuclear waste repository that holds transuranic, or low-level, waste—things like gloves, clothes, or rags soiled with plutonium or uranium—deep underground in a 3,000-foot-thick salt formation. The National Academy of Sciences has determined that disposal in salt is a safe and efficient way to get rid of this kind of waste, which can remain radioactive for 24,000 years.

The WIPP accepted its first transuranic waste shipment from New Mexico’s Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1999. But an explosion of a waste drum at the WIPP in 2014 revived debates about the plant’s safety and how to grapple with the state’s nuclear legacy. Twenty-one employees were exposed to low levels of radiation, but were not seriously affected. A subsequent federal investigation found two dozen safety violations at the WIPP.