May 25, 2010
Waste Processing and Recovery Act Acceleration Efforts for Contact-Handled Transuranic Waste at the Hanford Site
The Department of Energy's Office of Environmental Management's (EM), Richland Operations Office (Richland), is responsible for disposing of the Hanford Site's (Hanford) transuranic (TRU) waste, including nearly 12,000 cubic meters of radioactive contact-handled TRU wastes. Prior to disposing of this waste at the Department's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), Richland must certify that it meets WIPP's waste acceptance criteria. To be certified, the waste must be characterized, screened for prohibited items, treated (if necessary) and placed into a satisfactory disposal container. In a February 2008 amendment to an existing Record of Decision (Decision), the Department announced its plan to ship up to 8,764 cubic meters of contact-handled TRU waste from Hanford and other waste generator sites to the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project (AMWTP) at Idaho's National Laboratory (INL) for processing and certification prior to disposal at WIPP. The Department decided to maximize the use of the AMWTP's automated waste processing capabilities to compact and, thereby, reduce the volume of contact-handled TRU waste. Compaction reduces the number of shipments and permits WIPP to more efficiently use its limited TRU waste disposal capacity. The Decision noted that the use of AMWTP would avoid the time and expense of establishing a processing capability at other sites.