Lab completes round of hot waste deliveries

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By Roger Snodgrass

It wasn’t easy getting started, but after the first canisters of remote-handled waste made it out of Los Alamos National Laboratory, they have been rolling down the road on a regular basis.

On Thursday afternoon, almost exactly a month after the first shipment departed, the laboratory announced that the 16th and final load took off for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southern New Mexico.

In the month that followed, the campaign averaged four deliveries a week.

“Any time you put waste on the road and get it to a safe depository like WIPP, it’s good,” said George Rael, environmental operations manager for the Los Alamos Site Office.

“We didn’t have any major problems,” he said. “This was done safely.”

Each shipment was hauled in a specially designed cask with shielded lead cylinders and other protections. On an open flatbed trailer cask looked like a dumbbell bound for a colossal gym.

In fact they were big loads of radioactive trash bound for subterranean safekeeping outside Carlsbad. Each canister contained three 55-gallon drums holding materials that were once used in “hot cell” enclosures at the laboratory.

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