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Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project Achieves Impressive Safety and Production Marks

June 26, 2013 - 12:00pm

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Only the 620 employees at EM’s Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project earned the right to this vanity plate after working more than 14 million hours without a lost-time injury and safely and compliantly shipping more than 50,000 cubic meters of transuranic and mixed low-level radioactive waste for disposal.

Only the 620 employees at EM’s Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project earned the right to this vanity plate after working more than 14 million hours without a lost-time injury and safely and compliantly shipping more than 50,000 cubic meters of transuranic and mixed low-level radioactive waste for disposal.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – 14M50K is the new, genuinely unique vanity plate that only the 620 employees at EM’s Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project (AMWTP) at the Idaho site have earned the right to put on their vehicles.

That’s because they have worked more than 14 million hours without a lost-time injury and safely and compliantly shipped more than 50,000 cubic meters of transuranic (TRU) and mixed low-level radioactive waste for disposal.

“Without question, AMWTP has proven to be an unqualified success for the Department,” DOE Idaho Operations Office EM Deputy Manager Jim Cooper said. “The safe and compliant performance of the work taking place at AMWTP is continuing to provide DOE, and taxpayers, with the performance expected of this project.”

EM’s cleanup contractor, Idaho Treatment Group (ITG), took over management of AMWTP in October 2011. ITG is responsible for 2 million hours and more than 6,000 cubic meters of the totals.

“When we hold safety as a value, all other considerations fall into place,” ITG President and Project Manager Danny Nichols said. “Our employees and this management team understand that we will not be successful as a project unless we continue to hold safety above all else. Behind every statistic and accomplishment are conscientious, hardworking people who care about their coworkers.”

No. 1 Shipper to Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

Ongoing safe, compliant operations are also important for another DOE facility, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), the nation’s only repository for the permanent disposal of defense-related TRU waste.

Shipments of TRU waste to WIPP have totaled more than 11,220, representing more than 86,800 cubic meters. Of those, more than 5,223 shipments — nearly 50 percent — have come from AMWTP.

Of the 50,000 cubic meters removed from Idaho, 40,000 were TRU waste shipped to WIPP. The other 10,000 cubic meters consisted of mixed low-level waste sent to federal and private disposal sites.

A Regional Asset for DOE

To date, AMWTP has processed and shipped to WIPP an estimated 600 cubic meters of TRU waste from 15 DOE sites.

“We’ve seen thousands of shipments leave AMWTP, but these shipments of offsite waste are particularly significant to the Department,” said Cooper. “It’s our proof that waste from other sites can be safely and compliantly processed in Idaho at AMWTP.”

With an estimated 23,000 cubic meters of waste remaining, AMWTP is on track to have all waste safely and compliantly shipped out of Idaho to achieve regulatory mandated requirements. As AMWTP crews work towards completion, the Department is considering an ongoing mission for the project.

AMWTP is the only site in the complex that serves as a regional waste processing center for DOE, which eliminates the cost of building other facilities and certifying waste processing programs at other sites.

Governor's Task Force Endorses Project

The project has been endorsed by an important Idaho task force appointed by Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter.

Earlier this year, the Idaho Governor’s Leadership In Nuclear Energy Commission issued a final report that included this statement about the future of AMWTP:

“With regard to current activities at the (Idaho National Laboratory) site, the Commission believes the State of Idaho should continue to support… the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project (AMWTP), to process other DOE wastes after fulfilling its cleanup obligations under the Settlement Agreement. Over $1 billion has been invested in this facility, which is a national asset. Once the Idaho cleanup efforts are completed the facilities at the AMWTP could be effectively used to assist in the characterization and cleanup being performed at other national locations.”

While the future of AMWTP is being considered, one thing remains certain: emphasis will remain on safe operations, complemented by the can-do attitude of the AMWTP workforce. It’s a combination that will continue making AMWTP the nation’s leading project for safely and compliantly treating and shipping TRU waste.

 

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