The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulates commercial nuclear power plants and civilian use of nuclear material in the United States. California is a member of the NRC Agreement State Program with more than 1,700 licenses authorizing possession and use of radioactive materials. 

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is responsible for transporting defense-generated transuranic (TRU) radioactive waste from DOE facilities to a permanent geologic disposal facility called the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in southern New Mexico. The facility is 2,150 feet underground in geologic salt deposits. Since 1999, DOE has shipped the waste from 12 DOE locations by truck to WIPP. 

Since 1989, the Energy Commission is the lead state agency that plans proposed DOE shipments of TRU waste. The Energy Commission coordinates the activities of other state agencies involved with the WIPP shipments. These agencies include the California Highway Patrol, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, the California Department of Public Health—Radiologic Health Branch, the California Environmental Protection Agency, the California Department of Fish and Game, the California Department of Transportation, and the California Public Utilities Commission Rail Safety Branch.

The agencies have background papers and provide comments on WIPP transportation safety issues and policies.

Since 1989, California has been involved, with 10 western states, in efforts of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) and DOE to  develop a comprehensive safety program for WIPP shipments. New Mexico and Idaho cochair the WGA’s technical advisory group for WIPP transport. As part of the WGA-DOE safety program, the Energy Commission has coordinated California’s input to federal plans and policies for the shipments. The Energy Commission has prepared background information about DOE’s shipment plans, the WGA WIPP transport accident prevention and emergency preparedness program, and California’s issues and concerns.


Justin Cochran
Senior Nuclear Policy Advisor and Emergency Coordinator

California Energy Commission
1516 Ninth Street, MS-39
Sacramento, CA 95814