OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Newly hired employees under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will soon be working to reduce the Department of Energy’s transuranic waste inventory in Oak Ridge, allowing this waste to be moved out of the state of Tennessee earlier than originally planned.
“Through Recovery Act investments in our Oak Ridge environmental cleanup activities, we are able to safely process our waste inventory and cut 12 months off the original schedule,” said Gerald Boyd, Manager of DOE’s Oak Ridge Office. “Our new employees in training are helping us to make this accomplishment possible.”
Eighty-three employees hired in May by EnergX, LLC, DOE’s Transuranic Waste Processing Center contractor, are presently in training to serve as operators, radiation control technicians, safety experts and other positions at the facility. Most of the new hires are currently in 90-day training period that includes classroom and hands-on practical exercises on methods for characterizing, sorting, and packaging of simulated waste at EnergX’s training facility in Oak Ridge. Additionally, training in radiation protection and site safety practices are part of the core requirements before new employees complete on-site on-the-job training and are assigned in mid-September to work at the Transuranic Waste Processing Center.
“EnergX’s pairing of new employees with experienced professionals will enable us to continue to work safely and move waste out of Tennessee for permanent disposal,” said Boyd. “The Department of Energy is meeting its commitment to the state of Tennessee to remove transuranic waste and we’re planning to accomplish it ahead of schedule thanks to a well-trained and safety-conscious workforce.”
DOE plans to have both contact and remote-handled transuranic debris processed by September 2011, ahead of the original date of September 2012. Transuranic waste is a special class of highly-radioactive waste that is a result of operations in Oak Ridge for both defense and scientific research. As a part of DOE’s Environmental Management Program, this type of waste is shipped for permanent disposal to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, New Mexico, where it will be placed one-half mile underground. Waste that fails to meet transuranic waste criteria is shipped to DOE’s Nevada Test Site for permanent disposal.