Office of Environmental Management

Idaho Site to Accelerate Low-Level Waste Shipments for Disposal

November 7, 2017

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A new 50,000-pound cask carrying low-level waste leaves the Idaho Site en route to an offsite disposal site.
A new 50,000-pound cask carrying low-level waste leaves the Idaho Site en route to an offsite disposal site.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – A new shipping cask design enables EM’s Idaho Site to significantly increase nuclear waste shipments for disposal.

   The site plans to raise the average shipping rate of low-level waste containers from one to up to eight containers after DOE approved use of the 50,000-pound casks for transporting fissile and cobalt-60 waste to an offsite disposal site. 

   Idaho Cleanup Project contractor Fluor Idaho was previously approved to use a single commercial cask with limited fissile and curie content. The new casks allow for higher authorized fissile amounts and higher radioactive activity because they contain more lead shielding.

   “Due to the higher plutonium-239 fissile gram equivalent allowances and increased shielding capabilities with this cask, we’ve been able to increase our shipping output eightfold,” Fluor Idaho Waste Generator Services Manager Mary Waters said. “Obtaining approvals and transitioning to the new cask is recognized as a significant success for the project.”  

   Fluor Idaho loaded eight cobalt-60 containers into the new cask. Previously, the contractor was not allowed to ship cobalt-60 as packaged due to the remote-handled nature of the waste, which includes irradiated structural materials and activated stainless steel components from the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II.