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DOE Announces Preference for Disposal of Hanford Transuranic Tank Waste at WIPP

March 6, 2013 - 12:00pm

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WASHINGTON, D.C. –  Today the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced its preferred alternative to retrieve, treat, package, characterize and certify certain Hanford tank waste for disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico, if such waste is properly classified in the future as defense-related mixed transuranic tank waste (mixed TRU waste).

This preferred alternative, which may cover up to approximately 3.1 million gallons of tank waste contained in up to 20 tanks, will provide DOE with an option to deal with recent information about possible tank leaks and to expedite the overall tank waste retrieval effort at the Hanford Site in southeastern Washington State.

“This alternative, if selected for implementation in a record of decision, could enable the Department to reduce potential health and environmental risk in Washington State,” said Dave Huizenga, head of the EM program. “WIPP is a national resource for the disposal of mixed TRU waste generated from defense activities, and this alternative, if implemented, would not impact the continued safe operations and performance of the WIPP facility in New Mexico.”

Retrieving and processing candidate mixed TRU waste was evaluated in the Tank Closure and Waste Management Environmental Impact Statement issued for the Hanford Site in December 2012. Initiating retrieval of tank waste that has been properly classified as defense-related mixed TRU waste would be contingent on DOE’s obtaining the applicable and necessary permits, ensuring that the WIPP Waste Acceptance Criteria and all other applicable regulatory requirements have been met. Further, retrieval of waste would not commence until a Record of Decision (ROD) had been issued. DOE may issue such a ROD regarding the candidate mixed TRU wastes no sooner than 30 days from the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register.

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