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TRANSURANIC WASTE CAMPAIGN New Mexicans working together to meet a national environmental challenge

New Mexicans working together to meet a national environmental challenge ■■ Removing 3,706 cubic meters of waste by June 30, 2014 ■■ Paving the way for TA-54 closure ■■ Protecting New Mexico’s natural resources ■■ Cleaning up a Cold War legacy ■■ Keeping jobs in New Mexico


uring the summer of 2011, the largest fire in New Mexico history burned at the edges of Lab property and came within 3-1/2 miles of Technical Area 54 (TA-54) Area G, Los Alamos National Laboratory’s storage area for radioactive waste.

As a result of the framework agreement, LANL agreed to ship the 3,706 cubic meters of combustible and dispersible TRU waste stored aboveground at Area G to licensed facilities for permanent disposal by June 30, 2014.

The fire focused local and national concern on the transuranic (TRU) waste stored aboveground at Area G. In response, the State of New Mexico, the Department of Energy, and the Laboratory made shipping TRU waste stored aboveground at Area G to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) their top environmental priority.

The 3,706 LANL TRU Waste Campaign

Regulatory Framework

To expedite waste characterization and repackaging, the LANL TRU Waste Program adopted a “factory approach” that classified the waste into one of 78 categories called solution packages. By categorizing the waste into solution packages with similar characteristics, it can be processed more efficiently. This

Working together, the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) and the New Mexico Environment Department formed a framework agreement that realigns environmental priorities at the Lab based on risk.

About 20 percent of the waste consists of 55-gallon drums, 70 percent of it is machinery and other equipment stored in oversized containers, and the remaining 10 percent is in containers known as standard waste boxes.

approach also includes the use of four LANL facilities with the capability to characterize and repackage containers of different sizes.

solution package is processed quickly, efficiently, and safely.

The facilities include the following:

The LANL TRU Waste Program has sent record numbers of shipments to WIPP the past three years, with 171 shipments sent to WIPP for permanent disposal during fiscal year (FY) 2011.

■■ The Waste Characterization, Reduction and Repackaging facility, which processes drums whose contents have to be resized or repackaged to meet WIPP shipping standards. ■■ Dome 231, which processes containers with low levels of radioactivity. ■■ The Building 412 box line facility, which processes small fiberglass reinforced plywood boxes. ■■ The Building 375 box line facility, set to open in 2012, which will process larger plywood boxes. Combined with an experienced and knowledgeable workforce, these facilities ensure the waste in each

The Trip to WIPP

During FY 2012, the LANL TRU Waste Program will ship 800 cubic meters of waste to permanent disposal facilities. The 3,706 TRU Waste Campaign will reach its peak in FY 2013, with 1,800 cubic meters removed, and taper off in FY 2014 as the campaign nears its goal, with 1,106 cubic meters shipped. LANL’s shipments to WIPP are coordinated with shipments from other sites through the Department of Energy’s National TRU Program. Only Idaho National Laboratory ships more waste to WIPP than LANL.

Key Deliverables ■■ DOE/NNSA commits to complete removal of all non-cemented aboveground EM legacy TRU and newly generated TRU currently stored at Area G as of October 1, 2011, by no later than June 30, 2014. This inventory of aboveground TRU is defined as 3,706 cubic meters of material. ■■ DOE commits to the complete removal of all newly generated TRU received in Area G during FY 2012 and 2013 by no later than December 31, 2014. ■■ Based on projected funding profiles, DOE/NNSA will develop by December 31, 2012, a schedule, including pacing milestones, for disposition of the belowground TRU requiring retrieval at Area G.


3K 2K 1K

cubic meters removed

Planned (m3)

1800 1106





Contact Information Michael Graham, Associate Director, Environmental Programs Phone: 505-606-2337 Environmental Communication & Public Involvement P.O. Box 1663 MS J591 Los Alamos, NM 87545 Phone: 505-667-0216 FAX: 505-665-1812





WIPP Environmental stewardship is top priority LA-UR 12-20026

3706 Transuranic Waste Campaign  

New Mexicans working together to meet a national environmental challenge.