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10,000th Waste Shipment Milestone is All in the Family

August 29, 2011 - 12:00pm

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A Waste Isolation Pilot Plant facility shift manager inspects the shipping manifest of the 10,000th safe shipment to roll through the gates at the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant on Sept. 24, 2011.

A Waste Isolation Pilot Plant facility shift manager inspects the shipping manifest of the 10,000th safe shipment to roll through the gates at the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant on Sept. 24, 2011.

Idaho's Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project employees prepare to send the 10,000th shipment to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

Idaho's Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project employees prepare to send the 10,000th shipment to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

The 10,000th TRU waste shipment leaves Idaho's Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project en route to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

The 10,000th TRU waste shipment leaves Idaho's Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project en route to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

The 10,000th safe shipment arrives at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant on Sept. 24, 2011. The shipment from Idaho’s Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project marks a major milestone for the Department of Energy.

A Waste Isolation Pilot Plant facility shift manager inspects the shipping manifest of the 10,000th safe shipment to roll through the gates at the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant on Sept. 24, 2011.
Idaho's Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project employees prepare to send the 10,000th shipment to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.
The 10,000th TRU waste shipment leaves Idaho's Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project en route to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

CARLSBAD, N.M. – Bringing the 10,000th shipment of transuranic (TRU) waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) really was a family matter.

The truck that arrived on Sept. 24, 2011, bearing the 10,000th shipment of defense-generated, contact-handled TRU waste to the underground repository near Carlsbad was driven by Stan and Linda Taylor, a husband and wife team driving for CAST Transportation Inc., which holds one of two transportation contracts with WIPP. The milestone shipment came from DOE’s Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project in Idaho.

WIPP is a DOE facility designed to safely isolate defense-related TRU waste from people and the environment, and project leaders say a close-knit working relationship has been the key to success.

“There were many people involved in the making of this 10,000th shipment milestone and more than 12 million safe miles. We appreciate the contributions of everyone associated with WIPP’s success,” said Carlsbad Field Office Interim Manager Ed Ziemianski. “We were able to achieve this milestone because of the integration among all team members.”

Linda Taylor said she was working full time and going to school when her husband talked her into joining him on the road. The husband and wife team have driven WIPP trucks since right after the site began receiving shipments in 1999.

“I was the first woman on the program to haul radioactive waste, and I feel very proud of myself,” she said.

Stan said the real key to being a WIPP driver is to understand that you are not alone.

“You’ve got people backing you up, and you’ve got a lot of good support,” he said. “We’re all a team, and that’s part of the reason that we have such a good safety record.”

Linda said, “You have to be constantly aware of everything whenever you are driving. You’ve got to be on top of it. You’ve got to be proud of what you are doing. I can’t stress that enough. It is a big deal.”

Farok Sharif, president and general manager of URS Washington TRU Solutions, the WIPP management and operating contractor, said a hard-working group of people dedicated to the safety of their colleagues, the public and the environment has processed each one of the 10,000 shipments as if it were the first.

“I am extremely proud of this accomplishment and applaud the efforts of everyone involved,” Sharif said.

Since its opening, WIPP has received and disposed of more than 77,000 cubic meters of defense-related TRU waste from locations around the country.

WIPP’s first shipment came from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico on March 26, 1999. Other milestone shipments have included the final shipment from the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site in 2005 and the first shipment of remote-handled waste in 2007.

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