For the first time since 2012, transuranic waste processed and treated in Oak Ridge is leaving the Transuranic Waste Processing Center for permanent disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, New Mexico.
The first shipment left Oak Ridge on August 9.
Transuranic waste consists of materials and debris that are contaminated with elements that have a higher atomic mass and listed after uranium on the periodic table. The majority of Oak Ridge’s inventory originated from previous research and isotope production missions at the 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,” said Jay Mullis, acting manager of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management. “These shipments will remove risk from our site and help fulfill our commitments to the state of Tennessee. This was only possible through a lot of hard work from the federal and contractor employees here and support from staff in Carlsbad.”
Originally, much of the site’s transuranic waste was scheduled for shipment in 2014. However, weeks before shipments started, two events occurred at WIPP in February 2014—a truck fire and an unrelated radiological event—that suspended waste disposal operations, a press release said. These operations resumed in January 2017, and WIPP has begun receiving shipments from select sites across the U.S. Department of Energy complex. [Read more…]