Source: EM Update | Vol. 9, Issue 15; Contributor: Ben Williams | Aug. 17, 2017

Employees at Oak Ridge’s Transuranic Waste Processing Center celebrate resuming shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant for the first time since 2012.

For the first time since 2012, EM recently shipped treated transuranic waste from Oak Ridge’s Transuranic Waste Processing Center to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico for permanent disposal.

This waste consists of materials and debris contaminated with elements with a higher atomic mass and listed after uranium on the periodic table. The majority of Oak Ridge’s inventory resulted from previous research and isotope production missions at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

“Resuming shipments has been an important priority for our program due to the large inventory of processed waste that is stored in onsite facilities. These shipments will remove risk from our site and help fulfill our commitments to the state of Tennessee,” said Jay Mullis, acting manager of the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management. “This was only possible through a lot of hard work from the federal and contractor employees here and support from staff in Carlsbad.”

The shipment of transuranic waste leaves Oak Ridge bound for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant for permanent disposal.

“This is a really exciting day for us,” said Linda Beach, program manager with contractor NorthWind Solutions at the Transuranic Waste Processing Center. “I’m very proud of how our workforce has responded to the unexpected challenges during the past several years. They have been committed to our mission, and showed great innovation to identify ways to continue making progress and safely store waste despite the delay in shipments.”

 

With operations at WIPP ramping up, Oak Ridge anticipates making multiple shipments each month. Eligibility for shipping is based on sites verifying that the waste meets requirements for safe transportation and disposal. The exact allocation and sequence for shipping will be adjusted based on the emplacement rate at WIPP, operational needs at WIPP and the sites, and logistical issues, such as weather, affecting shipping.