USW atomic leaders connect with new Carlsbad Field Office Manager

The Department of Energy (DOE) hired a new, permanent manager for the agency’s Carlsbad Field Office (CBFO) to oversee contractors and operations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), about 26 miles east of Carlsbad, N.M.

Reinhard Knerr leads the CBFO’s coordination of DOE’s National Transuranic (TRU) Waste Program with TRU waste-generating facilities around the U.S. These facilities send their TRU waste to WIPP for disposal.

TRU waste is low-level, non-defense related nuclear waste resulting from research and other operations. It includes clothing, tools and equipment contaminated with low levels of radiation.

Knerr works with Nuclear Waste Partnership, with which the DOE has an agreement, to oversee day-to-day WIPP operations for waste emplacement and mining at the underground nuclear waste repository.

Knerr previously was the DUF6 federal project director at DOE’s Portsmouth Paducah Project Office (PPPO). He oversaw the depleted uranium hexafluoride (DUF6) conversion plants at the Portsmouth and Paducah sites in Ohio and Kentucky.

Before Knerr arrived at the CBFO, USW Atomic Energy Workers Council President Jim Key connected him with Local 9477 President Rick Fuentes from WIPP. Key interacted with Knerr at the Paducah site.

Fuentes said that he and Knerr had a telephone conference and that Knerr’s administrative assistant reached out to him to schedule monthly meetings between the two men.

“I always give everybody the benefit of the doubt,” Fuentes said. “Jim said he (Knerr) is always willing to listen, and they had a good relationship while he was in Paducah. That’s a plus that he works well with the union.”

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