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Oak Ridge transports first waste shipment to WIPP
Published February 19, 2023; 11:54 p.m.

OAK RIDGE, TN -- The Transuranic Waste Processing Center (TWPC) recently shipped its first load of transuranic (TRU) waste for disposal since coming under the management of Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) cleanup contractor UCOR.

TWPC work was recently moved under the Oak Ridge Reservation contract that continues for the next decade, ensuring appropriate resources and expertise are available to successfully address the remaining challenging TRU waste at Oak Ridge.

Employees at the facility are addressing a stockpile of legacy defense-related research waste. The most recent shipment included 35 drums and weighed nearly 80,000 pounds. After a two-day trip, the load arrived safely at EM’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico, for permanent disposal.

To complete the shipment, personnel prepared and loaded the waste containers over two days. A 10-person TWPC team worked closely with WIPP’s Central Characterization Program mobile load team.

“The process went like clockwork,” said TWPC Area Project Manager Randy Fadeley. “Everyone on the team was dedicated to getting this job done safely and on time.”

legacy transuranic waste
Nearly 80,000 pounds of legacy transuranic waste leave Oak Ridge for EM’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico. Once the shipment was ready, representatives from Tennessee’s highway patrol and emergency management agency inspected the trailer carrying the shipment and approved its release.

Once the shipment was ready for departure, representatives from Tennessee’s highway patrol and emergency management agency inspected the trailer and approved its release. With that approval, WIPP authorized the shipment.

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 remaining inventory of processed TRU waste to WIPP.

To date, Oak Ridge has shipped approximately 85% of its contact-handled TRU waste and 70% of its remote-handled TRU waste to WIPP.

Unlike contact-handled waste, remote-handled waste has higher radioactivity levels and must be processed using special equipment. TRU waste contains elements heavier than uranium on the periodic table and consists of clothing, tools, rags, residues, debris, soil and other items contaminated with small amounts of plutonium and other radioactive elements.

With its first TRU waste shipment successfully completed, UCOR is set to continue regular shipments to WIPP until the site’s entire inventory is removed.

EM constructed the TWPC in 2003 to address the legacy stockpile of defense-related research waste.


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