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DOE Identifies its Preferred Alternative for Certain Hanford Tank Wastes

March 11, 2013 - 4:27pm


In a Federal Register notice issued March 11, 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced its preferred alternative for wastes contained in underground radioactive waste storage tanks evaluated in the Final Tank Closure and Waste Management Environmental Impact Statement for the Hanford Site, Richland, Washington (Final TC & WM EIS, DOE/EIS-0391, December 2012).

The notice states:  "With regard to those wastes that, in the future, may be properly and legally classified as mixed transuranic waste (mixed TRU waste) DOE's preferred alternative is to retrieve, treat, package, and characterize and certify the wastes for disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico, a geologic repository for the disposal of mixed TRU waste generated by atomic energy defense activities. This Notice supplements DOE's expression of its preferred alternatives identified in the Final TC & WM EIS in Section S.7 of the Summary, and in Chapter 2, Section 2.12, of Volume 1."

This notice further states that it pertains only to the retrieval, treatment, packaging, and characterization and certification, for disposal at WIPP, of wastes contained in the 20 tanks evaluated in the TC & WM EIS as being candidates for classification as mixed TRU waste. The total volume of waste in these tanks is approximately 3.1 million gallons, all of which the EIS evaluations assumed to be mixed TRU waste for the purposes of analysis. Currently, DOE has not classified any of the waste as mixed TRU waste.

According to the notice, "Initiating retrieval of tank waste classified as 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, and making a documented determination that the waste is properly classified as mixed TRU waste. Further, retrieval of waste would not commence until a ROD had been issued. DOE may issue such a ROD regarding the candidate TRU wastes no sooner than 30 days from the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register."