Advanced techniques allowed crews at Los Alamos National Laboratory to decontaminate large boxes of waste so it could be shipped as mixed low-level rather than transuranic waste.
The EM program at Los Alamos National Laboratory exceeded its shipping goals in fiscal year 2013, shipping twice as much waste as it did in fiscal year 2012.
With less than eight months to go in an accelerated campaign to remove 3,706 cubic meters of transuranic (TRU) waste from Area G, the laboratory’s waste management site, EM’s TRU Waste Program surpassed its fiscal year 2013 goal of 2,600 cubic meters, removing 2,745 cubic meters and shipping twice as much waste in fiscal year 2013 as it did in fiscal year 2012.
A combination of advanced decontamination techniques, use of a federal disposal contract and key partnerships contributed to the project’s success in fiscal year 2013, according to Pete Maggiore, assistant manager for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Los Alamos Field Office Environmental Projects Office.
“Los Alamos was able to decontaminate large boxes of waste so they were able to be managed as mixed low-level waste instead of transuranic waste,” Maggiore said. “We then used a federal contract to ship this waste to an offsite commercial disposal facility. It was an efficient and cost-effective way to remove waste.”
Under this optimized approach, Los Alamos was able to ship large boxes of mixed low-level waste containing pieces of equipment such as gloveboxes, avoiding the risky and time-consuming process of cutting up that equipment to fit within small containers.
After the massive Las Conchas Fire came to within 3-1/2 miles of Area G in 2011, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez asked DOE to make removing the waste stored above ground at Area G its highest environmental priority. The state and DOE formed a Framework Agreement that requires removal of 3,706 cubic meters of waste from Area G by June 30, 2014.
“Our employees and our partners — such as the New Mexico Environment Department, the Department of Energy and the National TRU Waste Program — have made this success possible,” said Jeff Mousseau, associate director of environmental programs at the laboratory. “As we complete this campaign and move forward, we will focus on new initiatives at Los Alamos and further reduce environmental risk in northern New Mexico.”