Office of Environmental Management

Work at AMWTP Continues After Waste Treatment Mission

October 15, 2019

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Thousands of drums at the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project at DOE's Idaho National Laboratory Site await shipment to EM's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.
Thousands of drums at the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project at DOE's Idaho National Laboratory Site await shipment to EM's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – The transuranic (TRU) waste debris treatment mission scheduled to conclude this fall at DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Site represents a relatively small footprint within the broader Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project (AMWTP).

Although the mission to resize and repackage TRU waste at AMWTP’s Treatment Facility is set to end in coming weeks, workers will continue shipping TRU and low-level waste out of AMWTP for off-site disposal well into the next decade.

“The Treatment Facility will close, but we still have an overall mission to complete,” said Bryan Breffle, a director at Fluor Idaho, EM’s INL Site cleanup contractor. “We’re the largest shipper to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) and we will continue to be for the foreseeable future.”

In late June, AMWTP completed its 500th shipment to WIPP since the permanent disposal repository in New Mexico reopened and resumed receiving waste in April 2017. Those 500 shipments comprised 11,300 drums of waste.

Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project crews prepare a transportation cask containing waste for shipment to EM's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.
Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project crews prepare a transportation cask containing waste for shipment to EM's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

As many as seven TRU waste shipments leave the INL Site for WIPP every week. EM’s INL Site program is responsible for nearly 60 percent of the shipments WIPP has received. Transportation casks containing TRU waste are a common sight at AMWTP, staged for use on the plant’s north side.

AMWTP has sent more than 6,300 shipments of TRU waste to WIPP, representing nearly 9 million miles of shipments.

“Our track record of sending waste to WIPP is outstanding,” said Breffle. “The public and communities along the way should feel assured that we have an impeccable safety record and we’ll continue to build on it as we move forward.”

The Idaho State Police is responsible for thoroughly inspecting each shipment before it can enter Idaho’s roadways en route to WIPP. A burned-out turn indicator bulb on a truck or tractor trailer is enough to delay a shipment until a replacement is installed.

Each shipment to EM's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant must be cleared for travel by an Idaho State Police trooper following a thorough inspection.
Each shipment to EM's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant must be cleared for travel by an Idaho State Police trooper following a thorough inspection.

“We have a great appreciation for the Idaho State Police,” Breffle said. “They leave no stone unturned in their inspection. It’s all about keeping the driver and public safe.”

Additional TRU and low-level waste generated from a targeted waste exhumation effort at the INL Site’s Accelerated Retrieval Project will also be prepared for shipment out of the state by AMWTP crews.

EM waste shipments will continue to leave the INL Site for up to 10 years.

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