Office of Environmental Management

Idaho Crews Tackle Challenging Waste Boxes

January 15, 2019

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Operators use a robotic arm to size a tank at the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project.
Operators use a robotic arm to size a tank at the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project.

IDAHO FALLS, IdahoEM and its cleanup contractor at the Idaho National Laboratory Site are on a challenging Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project (AMWTP) mission to segregate debris waste with high concentrations of radioactive isotopes for waste drums that meet criteria for permanent disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

   “No other facility in the DOE complex has this type of equipment to safely and remotely open boxes of this type of waste,” Fluor Idaho AMWTP Manager Chad Jardine said. “Our operators know how to efficiently and effectively sort the material to get containers within regulatory-approved levels that can be permanently disposed of in WIPP.”

   Waste management crews have so far processed 20 of the 30 waste boxes containing fissile isotopes in a large remote-operated glovebox at AMWTP.

   A robotic arm opens a box, and the material is emptied into a metal trough where it is separated into smaller amounts. The segregated debris is then dropped through a port into a drum, which is size-reduced in AMWTP’s supercompactor to prepare for shipment to WIPP.

   Some of the boxes have more than 10 times the amount of fissile isotopes than what is allowed at WIPP, requiring the team to repackage the material into several drums.

   To prepare for this campaign, staff developed new procedures, conducted engineering and safety evaluations, drafted new radiation control requirements, and completed additional training.


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