Waste staging project gets initial nod

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By Carol A. Clark

The Department of Energy has approved the preliminary design of a new radioactive waste staging facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The facility will replace several buildings and fabric domes at Technical Area 54, which must be closed and remediated by 2015 under the Consent Order agreement with the state of New Mexico.
“Technical Area 54 will close, but LANL’s mission continues; this facility will be safer for workers and the public, it consolidates our operations and it will be more cost efficient,” said Craig Leasure, deputy principal associate director of LANL’s weapons program.”
The transuranic (TRU) waste facility will be a staging area for newly generated waste, which by law must go to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant WIPP) near Carlsbad.
Since 1944, LANL has disposed of at least 17.5 million cubic feet of hazardous and radioactive wastes on-site at 24 officially designated material disposal areas, according to the Los Alamos Study Group, a nuclear watchdog group.
TRU waste is waste comprised of items such as gloves, clothing and lab equipment contaminated with elements heavier than uranium and above certain quantities.
“This facility is part of a coordinated set of construction projects anchored by the CMRR nuclear facility,” LASG Executive Director Greg Mello said.

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