Workers with EM Los Alamos Field Office cleanup contractor Newport News Nuclear BWXT Los Alamos use a new processing line to process and repackage drums of low-level nuclear waste for disposal offsite at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Technical Area 54.
Workers with EM Los Alamos Field Office cleanup contractor Newport News Nuclear BWXT Los Alamos use a new processing line to process and repackage drums of low-level nuclear waste for disposal offsite at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Technical Area 54.

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – The EM Los Alamos Field Office (EM-LA) and cleanup contractor Newport News Nuclear BWXT Los Alamos (N3B) are using a new processing line to stabilize and remove excess liquid low-level radioactive waste containers at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to prepare the waste for shipment to an off-site licensed disposal facility.

Using the new processing line, workers have remediated waste containers varying in size from 55-gallon drums to 500-gallon standard waste boxes. The waste includes protective shoe covers and clothing, rags, and tools contaminated with low levels of radioactive material used during legacy radioactive operations.

The new processing involves two phases to prioritize safety and maximize efficiency. In the first phase, workers stabilized excess liquid in 24 containers using absorbent. In the second phase, they remediated more difficult containers using both absorbent and liquid pumping.

“This new project enables us to maximize the amount of waste removed,” N3B President and Program Manager Kim Lebak said. “We are working to achieve greater efficiency in removing waste from LANL and disposing of it safely offsite.”

Approximately 3 cubic meters of the waste were processed and prepared for disposal during the first phase, and 81 cubic meters were processed in the second phase. Engineers have identified an additional 8 cubic meters of waste to be processed in the future on this line.

“This project is a great example of what N3B can accomplish as EM-LA’s partner in the legacy cleanup mission,” said Pat O’Grady, N3B’s contact-handled transuranic waste manager. “The support and expertise from multiple N3B functional areas was vital for the success of the project. Plenty of planning, process development, and ultimately, execution of the work, demonstrates our focus to safely and compliantly ship waste for final disposal.”

On behalf of EM-LA, N3B operates Technical Area 54, the radioactive solid waste management facility at LANL. N3B is responsible for retrieving, characterizing, packaging, and shipping this waste for permanent disposal offsite.

N3B shipped over 3,101 cubic meters of low-level radioactive waste offsite in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. Eighty-four cubic meters of this waste were processed through the new line.