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The portion of a West Texas radioactive waste disposal site built to handle waste from U.S. Energy Department locations nationwide is set to open.
Waste from New Mexico’s Los Alamos National Laboratory on Thursday will be the first low-level radioactive waste to be buried in the 90-acre federal dump on a site operated by Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists.
Company spokesman Chuck McDonald says the Los Alamos waste is derived from nuclear materials research and development stored at the laboratory for decades.
“I am proud to be here today to celebrate this historic event. We appreciate the state of Texas, the local communities and Waste Control Specialists for their support of our important national cleanup mission and look forward to a continued, collaborative relationship to ensure the safe disposal and long-term management of this nation’s low-level and mixed low-level (LLW/MLLW) radioactive waste,” EM Senior Advisor David Huizenga said.
The DOE Los Alamos Field Office is the first to dispose of waste in this new facility.
“With the help of WCS and the supporters in Texas, we now have a cost-effective way of meeting our commitment to the Governor of New Mexico that was agreed to following the 2011 Las Conchas fire that came within 3-1/2 miles of the Las Alamos National Laboratory waste storage area,” Los Alamos Field Office DOE Transuranic Waste Manager David Nickless said.
The framework agreement between DOE and the state of New Mexico requires the removal of 3,706 cubic meters of waste from Los Alamos by June 30, 2014. Much of the waste is transuranic and is being disposed of at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico. Some of the waste, however, is classified as LLW/MLLW and can be disposed of in the new Waste Control Specialists’ Federal Waste Facility.
On April 12, EM awarded fixed-price Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (ID/IQ) multiple-award contracts for the permanent disposal of waste resulting from decades of nuclear weapons development and research. DOE facilities throughout the U.S. are able to issue task orders under the contracts awarded to EnergySolutions and WCS.
After a large wildfire lapped at the edges of lab property in summer 2011, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez identified removal of the waste as a top priority.
Low-level radioactive waste from non-Energy Department sources is buried in a smaller, separate site nearby.