Private Company Takes Over Storage Of WIPP Transuranic Waste

By David Dalton
4 April 2014

4 Apr (NucNet): The first transuranic waste shipment has arrived at a private facility in Texas where it will be stored temporarily until the government’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico resumes operations, the US Department of Energy (DOE) and WIPP operator Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP) said.

The shipment, which was sent to a facility operated by private company Waste Control Specialists in Andrews, Texas, originated from the federal Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico.

Waste Control Specialists will be paid up to 8.8 million US dollars (6.4 million euros) to store the waste for as long as a year.

The DOE plans to remove 3,706 cubic meters of transuranic waste from the Los Alamos laboratory by 30 June 2014. Up to 100 shipments may be needed with as many as 10 shipments a week, the DOE said.

The DOE will permanently dispose of the containers at WIPP when waste disposal activities resume.

WIPP is “in recovery” from two unrelated events that occurred in February 2014, the DOE said. The first was an underground vehicle fire and the second a small radioactive release.

WIPP is the US’s first repository for the permanent disposal of defence-generated transuranic radioactive waste left from research and production of nuclear weapons.

The facility, in southeastern New Mexico, includes disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation, about 650 meters underground. Waste disposal began at WIPP in March 1999.

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