Sandia ships final barrels of TRU waste to WIPP facility

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Labs: Martinez on hand to witness the event

By The Staff

Sandia National Laboratories on Wednesday shipped its final four truckloads of radioactive legacy waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad.

Gov. Susana Martinez was on hand for a press conference marking the final shipment of the so-called transuranic waste. 

“This is a significant milestone in our efforts to protect New Mexico’s environment and keep our state beautiful,” Martinez said. “Today’s final shipment of TRU waste demonstrates an important partnership with Sandia National Laboratories as we work to preserve our state for future generations.”

Following Thursday’s press conference, four trucks carrying the final shielded containment vessels of remote handled TRU legacy waste from Sandia National Labs departed from the Eubank Gate heading to WIPP.

The Legacy Waste Clean-up Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Energy and has been set up at several dozen federal lab sites across the country.  Both Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories in New Mexico participate in the program.

The Legacy Waste program at Sandia began preparation for waste disposal in December 2010.  Much of the waste at Sandia was generated as a result of nuclear defense research and weapons manufacturing from programs conducted during the 1970s and 1980s. To date, Sandia has shipped 61 drums of this waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant under the oversight of the New Mexico Environment Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“The success of this program is a true testament to the many professionals who have spent years categorizing, separating, and handling the transuranic waste,” Martinez said.  “I am proud to say that each of these shipments has made it safely to their destination without any associated safety issues.

This achievement is truly reflective of the continued efforts of all those involved in the project.”

Martinez also reported today that after the first quarter of this calendar year, Los Alamos National Laboratory is on schedule in their effort to remove above-ground transuranic waste by June of 2014.

This latest effort on the part of LANL is a direct result of the New Mexico Environment Department and Los Alamos National Laboratory entering into a Framework Agreement last fall that calls for all 3,706 cubic meters of above-ground transuranic waste to be removed from the facility by June of 2014.