LANL sets waste hauling record

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Los Alamos National Laboratory has set a new LANL record for the amount of transuranic (TRU) waste from past nuclearoperations shipped in a single year to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, NM. In fact, the lab has shipped record numbers of transuranic waste each of the past three years.

The lab’s TRU Waste Program completed 171 shipments in the past fiscal year, between October 2010 and September 2011, breaking last year’s record of 158. The Lab has ramped up its waste disposal effort and has transported more than 450 shipments safely to WIPP since 2009.

“Transporting TRU waste off the laboratory is a high priority for Governor Martinez and the State of New Mexico,” said George Rael, assistant manager for environmental operations at the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Los Alamos Site Office.

“This achievement is very important for the laboratory, NNSA, and the community,” he said.

TRU waste consists of clothing, tools, rags, debris, soil, and other items contaminated with radioactive elements, mostly plutonium. Each of these man-made elements has an atomic number greater than that of uranium, thus they are labeled transuranic, for “beyond uranium” on the periodic table of the elements. Waste is packaged primarily in drums or fiberglass-reinforced boxes, which are then typically placed in a large, steel shipping container called a TRUPACT-II.