OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – EM contractor UCOR last week assumed responsibility of the Transuranic Waste Processing Center (TWPC) and waste processing operations at Oak Ridge.
EM’s contract with the previous contractor operating the facility, North Wind Solutions, expired Oct. 26.
“We completed a pretty intensive 60-day transition, but now we have this great group of TWPC workers as part of the UCOR team,” said Maurice “Hoss” Brown, UCOR’s TWPC and transuranic (TRU) waste program manager. “An added benefit for UCOR is the wealth of knowledge that the TWPC workforce brings to the UCOR family.”
To date, employees at the TWPC have processed, repackaged and certified for disposal approximately 98% of Oak Ridge’s inventory of legacy TRU debris waste.
UCOR will complete work on the small amount of remaining TRU waste before eventually demolishing the facility.
The move transitions the TWPC work under the $8.3 billion Oak Ridge Reservation contract that began in May 2022 and continues for the next decade. It ensures appropriate resources and expertise are available to successfully address the remaining challenging TRU waste.
Brown praised North Wind Solutions for its assistance in the seamless transition to UCOR.
“Transitioning the entire workforce of an operation like TWPC can be stressful and challenging,” Brown said. “North Wind Solutions was committed to performing a smooth transition and ensuring that the workers stayed informed during every step of the process.”
EM constructed the TWPC in 2003 to address a legacy stockpile of defense-related research waste. TRU waste is artificially made, radioactive elements heavier than uranium on the periodic table.
Workers at the facility receive, process and package two forms of TRU waste: remote- and contact-handled waste. Remote-handled waste has higher radioactivity levels and must be processed using special equipment, while contact-handled waste has lower radioactivity levels and can be processed directly by employees.
After waste is processed at the facility, it is shipped to EM’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico for safe, permanent disposal.
While TWPC employees have processed, repackaged and certified approximately 98% of Oak Ridge’s inventory of legacy TRU waste, the site is steadily working to ship its entire inventory of processed TRU waste to WIPP.
To date, Oak Ridge has shipped 83% of its contact-handled TRU waste and 70% of its remote-handled TRU waste to WIPP.
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