Last of SRS's legacy TRU waste arrives at WIPP

May 31, 2022, 12:12PMRadwaste Solutions
The final legacy TRU waste shipment from Savannah River Site departs the site in mid-April, on its way to WIPP in southeastern New Mexico for permanent disposal. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy reported this month that the final container of legacy transuranic waste from the Savannah River Site arrived at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant for permanent disposal on the afternoon of April 14. The shipment capped the end of a journey for 239 shipments that began in 2011.

In all, trucks that carried the shipments weighed a combined 11,402,000 pounds and travelled more than 347,000 miles to the WIPP site.

Radiography unit at SRS verifies contents of TRU shipments to WIPP

February 16, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
Operators load a TRU waste drum into a real-time radiography unit for characterization at the Solid Waste Management Facility at the Savannah River Site. (Photos: DOE)

Operators at the Savannah River Site’s Solid Waste Management Facility can now characterize and certify newly generated TRU waste through the use of a real-time radiography unit that uses an X-ray system to examine the contents of waste containers. The equipment was recently installed to meet updated requirements set by the Department of Energy’s National TRU Program that involve evaluating the containers for chemical compatibility and oxidizing chemicals.

The shipments of TRU waste from SRS, in South Carolina, are sent to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), in New Mexico, for disposal.

DOE completes mining of WIPP’s Panel 8

October 14, 2021, 7:04AMRadwaste Solutions
An electric continuous miner machine chews through the last wall of salt in Panel 8’s Room 7 of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant to complete the rough cut of the panel. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management this week announced that after seven years, mining of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’s Panel 8 is finished. Created from an ancient salt formation 2,150 feet below the surface, Panel 8’s seven emplacement rooms are the next destination for transuranic waste brought to WIPP from DOE sites throughout the country.

New area for TRU waste emplacement takes shape at WIPP

June 28, 2021, 3:05PMRadwaste Solutions
A map of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant underground, with a focus on Panels 7 and 8 at right. (Source: DOE EM)

The amount of salt mined so far from Panel 8 at the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is a lot. The DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) compared the amount to the weight of more than 46,000 Ford F-150s, about 16,000 African bush elephants, nearly 510 Boeing 747s, two Titanics, or enough to coat the rims of 3.6 million margarita glasses.

Miners working 2,150 feet underground extract the salt using grinders called continuous miner machines to create space to place defense-related transuranic (TRU) waste.

With WIPP’s Panel 8 scheduled for completion in a little more than half a year, crews recently crossed the 100,000-tons-mined threshold and, as of mid-June, are at 105,000 tons removed from the panel.

Sparks from Los Alamos waste drum prompt WIPP evacuation

April 2, 2021, 6:56AMRadwaste Solutions

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant's underground repository in New Mexico was evacuated for 13 days in March following an incident at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where a drum being packed with transuranic waste began emitting sparks.

As reported on March 31 by the Carlsbad Current Argus, an evacuation order was given on March 5 after WIPP was informed by the National Nuclear Security Administration that similar at-risk drums from LANL were emplaced for disposal in the repository. The order was lifted on March 18 after it was determined that the drums were compliant with WIPP’s waste acceptance criteria and did not pose a risk.

WIPP could run out of disposal space, GAO says

December 4, 2020, 9:29AMRadwaste Solutions

The aboveground portion of WIPP’s current ventilation system. Photo: GAO

A study of the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico has found that the repository faces long-term issues with ensuring sufficient physical space and statutory capacity to dispose of the federal government’s inventory of transuranic (TRU) waste. WIPP is the United States’ only repository for the disposal of TRU waste generated by the DOE’s nuclear weapons research and production.

The Government Accountability Office study, Better Planning Needed to Avoid Potential Disruptions at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (CAO-21-48), was published on November 19.