Lab sets shipment record

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Lab: 172nd truckload to WIPP completed

For the fourth consecutive year, Los Alamos National Laboratory’s TRU Waste Program has sent a record number of transuranic waste shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad for permanent disposal.

The laboratory’s 172nd shipment of TRU waste this year left Los Alamos bound for WIPP Aug. 2. With two months left in the fiscal year, the laboratory has already beat last year’s fiscal year record of 171 shipments.

“Our goal this fiscal year is 184 shipments and we are on track to surpass that by a substantial margin,” said Lee Bishop, TRU waste manager at the Department of Energy’s Los Alamos Site Office. “We expect to send in the neighborhood of 200 shipments to WIPP this year.”

The laboratory has transported more than 1,000 shipments to WIPP since that facility opened in 1999.

Additional emphasis was placed on Area G shipments after last year’s Las Conchas Fire. Although the fire did not pose an immediate threat and protective measures were in place, the State of New Mexico, the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration and the laboratory made removing the waste stored above ground at Area G one of their top environmental priorities.

In an agreement between the New Mexico Environment Department and DOE, the laboratory will remove 3,706 cubic meters of waste from Area G by June 30, 2014.

“We are pleased with the progress we’ve made in our first year of accelerated shipping and we plan to more than double the volume of waste we ship next year,” said Dan Cox, deputy associate director of environmental programs at the lab.

The laboratory plans to ship more than 800 cubic meters of waste to WIPP this year; 1,800 cubic meters next year; and the remaining 1,106 cubic meters by June 30, 2014.