LIVERMORE, Calif. – The first transuranic (TRU) waste shipment to depart Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in a decade has been safely shipped to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) for permanent disposal earlier this month.
The milestone shipment resulted from several years of coordinated effort with EM’s Carlsbad Field Office (CBFO); WIPP management and operations contractor Nuclear Waste Partnership; the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Office of Enterprise Stewardship; and NNSA’s Livermore Field Office.
As a national security laboratory, LLNL generates TRU waste resulting from research in support of the national defense mission. Since the last TRU waste shipment campaign in 2010, LLNL has been accumulating newly generated waste in its storage facilities, which were projected to reach capacity this year. Without the ability to ship the TRU waste offsite, some research operations could be impacted.
In 2018, LLNL secured funding with NNSA’s Office of Safety, Infrastructure, and Operations to deploy the WIPP Central Characterization Program to characterize and certify LLNL’s inventory of TRU waste. This ensures that all the waste being shipped to WIPP meets disposal requirements for the facility. LLNL updated its safety basis documentation, underwent multiple readiness activities, and began characterizing its TRU waste in 2019.
Once the waste was certified and ready for shipment, the WIPP mobile loading team deployed to LLNL to load the waste containers into TRUPACT-II shipping packages. All WIPP shipments are tracked while en route to the facility using a satellite tracking system known as TRANSCOM, which helps ensure the safety of the shipments. The first shipment of the campaign safely arrived at WIPP on Sept. 19, following the approximate 2,000-mile journey.
The current campaign will continue until the newly certified TRU waste is safely removed from LLNL.