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Last of high-risk drums shipped

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By The Staff

Los Alamos National Laboratory reported continued progress in removing high-activity waste drums to the Waste Isolation Pile Plant in Carlsbad.

The lab announced this week that the last group of “unvented” high-activity drums was dispatched earlier in the month.

A laboratory notice stated that 228 of the originally identified 352 parent drums have been sent to WIPP. Because repackaging was required in some cases, an addition 54 drums were generated, bring ing the total shipments in this campaign to 282 drums.

“This is a significant achievement for the Laboratory,” said Mark Shepard of Los Alamos’s Waste Disposition Project. “It closes a chapter on the February 2007 commitment to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Board to prioritize characterization and disposal of the highest-risk transuranic (TRU) wastes stored at Technical Area 54, Area G,” he said.

The high-activity drums, defined under a standard measure of risk analysis, as containing higher than 56 plutonium-equivalent curies, have played a role in concerns about accident scenarios at Area G.

Los Alamos began a “Quick to WIPP” program to expedite shipment of the most radioactive lower level waste after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the 2000 Cerro Grande wildfire that burned through parts of the town of Los Alamos.

Lab officials had hoped to finish sending such waste to WIPP by the end of 2006, but the program was delayed, prompting environmental groups to call for better lab storage facilities.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.