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Lab Ahead of Schedule Processing Waste in Large Boxes

March 30, 2012 - 12:00pm

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A framework agreement between DOE and the State of New Mexico calls for the Lab’s TRU Waste Program to ship 3,706 cubic meters of combustible or dispersible transuranic waste to WIPP for permanent disposal by June 30, 2014.

A framework agreement between DOE and the State of New Mexico calls for the Lab’s TRU Waste Program to ship 3,706 cubic meters of combustible or dispersible transuranic waste to WIPP for permanent disposal by June 30, 2014.

Processing waste in large boxes is ahead of schedule due to worker skill, efficient processing
and good planning.

Processing waste in large boxes is ahead of schedule due to worker skill, efficient processing and good planning.

Crews repackage waste from a fiberglass-reinforced plywood box into a container that can be shipped to WIPP.

Crews repackage waste from a fiberglass-reinforced plywood box into a container that can be shipped to WIPP.

A framework agreement between DOE and the State of New Mexico calls for the Lab’s TRU Waste Program to ship 3,706 cubic meters of combustible or dispersible transuranic waste to WIPP for permanent disposal by June 30, 2014.
Processing waste in large boxes is ahead of schedule due to worker skill, efficient processing
and good planning.
Crews repackage waste from a fiberglass-reinforced plywood box into a container that can be shipped to WIPP.

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – The TRU Waste Program at Los Alamos National Laboratory is currently two months ahead of schedule processing and repackaging waste stored in large fiberglass-reinforced boxes (FRPs).

These large boxes pose particular repackaging challenges since they contain many different types of radioactively contaminated equipment and can be up to 30 feet long. The contents must be characterized, then repackaged to meet the criteria of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) or other permanent disposal facilities, before being shipped to those locations.

Program Manager Michael Romero credits the skill of workers, efficient processing and good planning for the work being so far ahead of schedule.

“Our production rate has been nearly double what we planned originally,” Romero said. “By applying the lessons we’ve learned during the past few months of doing this work, our processing has become even more efficient.”

Finishing the FRPs ahead of schedule will benefit the Lab’s ability to ship waste from Area G to WIPP, Romero said, because both the Lab’s waste processing facility and the crew will be available to process other types of waste containers sooner, which could help accelerate the overall schedule.

“Potentially, we could process waste this year that was originally scheduled to be processed in 2013,” he said.

A framework agreement between DOE and the State of New Mexico calls for the Lab’s TRU Waste Program to ship 3,706 cubic meters of combustible or dispersible transuranic waste to WIPP for permanent disposal by June 30, 2014.

The agreement was spurred by last year’s Las Conchas Fire, which came within 3-1/2 miles of Area G, where transuranic waste is stored at the Lab. About 70 percent of the 3,706 cubic meters to be processed and shipped is stored in FRPs.

Transuranic (TRU) waste consists of protective clothing, tools, equipment, debris and other items contaminated with small amounts of radioactive elements, mainly plutonium. Because each of these manmade elements has an atomic number higher than uranium, it is called TRU for “beyond uranium” on the periodic table of elements.

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