The Energy Department’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, N.M., expects to start receiving transuranic waste from the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois by the end of this year, DOE Carlsbad Field Office Manager Todd Shrader said recently.
“We are about to add a new site, Argonne, this fall,” Shrader said Sept. 12 at the DOE’s National Cleanup Workshop in Alexandria, Va.
Waste emplacement operations resumed at WIPP in early 2017, following a nearly three-year break forced by a February 2014 radiation release in the underground disposal area. Since then, WIPP has taken shipments from the Idaho National Laboratory, Waste Control Specialists in Texas, Oak Ridge Site in Tennessee, and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, Shrader said.
Since reopening, the disposal facility has received 365 shipments, according to the latest publicly available data.
Although the Energy Department typically doesn’t reveal exact timelines for shipments, it anticipates taking five shipments from Argonne by mid-2019, based upon projections provided to local governments along the waste travel routes.
Argonne National Laboratory is home to both contact-handled waste and the more dangerous remote-handled waste, according to the 2017 Annual Transuranic Waste Inventory Report.
The lab’s contact-handled waste comes from various solids generated from the lab and its maintenance operations. The remote-handled waste includes debris generated by examination of fuel pins and reactor structural material.
Argonne National Laboratory is a pioneer in nuclear reactor research, dating to 1942 when a team led by Enrico Fermi produced the world’s first sustained nuclear chain reaction. The national laboratory remains active in advance nuclear energy research.