The Nevada Test Site Legacy TRU Waste - The WIPP Central Characterization Project Page: 2 of 12
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WM'03 Conference, February 23-27, 2003, Tucson, AZ
(NDA), Non-Destructive Examination (NDE), and Headspace Gas Sampling (HSG) on
all drums and Visual Examination (VE) as a quality control check of radiography on a
sufficient number of drums to determine a site-specific miscertification rate, as required
in the WIPP Waste Analysis Plan (WAP) of the Hazardous Waste Permit.
Although many of these characterization processes had been run on the waste during
previous characterization campaigns, the data was not collected under a WIPP certified
program. To avoid repeating the characterization without a certified program, the U.S.
Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Operations
Office (NNSA/NV) decided to utilize the WIPP Central Characterization Project (CCP).
The CCP is a program that the Carlsbad Field Office (CBFO) initiated to provide
characterization services to the small quantity sites in the complex that were interested in
sending their waste to the WIPP but were unable to afford the costs and difficulties of
hiring vendors that perform the characterization activities and getting the vendors
certified. In addition, the CCP provides assistance to WIPP-certified large quantity sites
to assist these sites in meeting production goals and waste shipping milestones.
The CBFO deployed the CCP vendors to the NTS beginning in June 2001. There are
currently three DOE sites employing the CCP to characterize their waste for disposal at
the WIPP: NTS, Savannah River Site (SRS) and Argonne National Laboratory in
Chicago (Argonne-East). SRS was the first site to establish the CCP to aid in increasing
the characterization throughput since the site had a TRU waste characterization and
certification program (5). The benefit of the CCP for Argonne-East and the NTS was the
ability to standardize mobile characterization equipment. Although this is the primary
concept of the CCP, due to differences in the waste composition and descriptions at the
different sites, different types of characterization equipment are made available for
deployment by the CCP. At the NTS, a real-time radiography unit, a mobile HSG drum
venting system and a segmented-gamma scanner are utilized. The NTS M&O contractor,
Bechtel Nevada (BN), provides the VE services in an established system that conducts
VE and repackaging in a permanent structure at the WEF.
The CBFO conducted the Certification Audit of the NTS CCP during the Fall of 2002.
Site certification is pending approval of the Certification Audit report by the state of New
Mexico. The vendors have been processing drums through the CCP since they deployed
in Summer 2001, but shipping to the WIPP cannot become a reality until the site becomes
This paper describes the history of the TRU waste stored at the NTS: the lifecycle project
plans for the disposition of the waste at the WIPP, the past characterization activities
performed on the waste, and the decision to utilize the CCP. Finally, the paper will lead
to a discussion on the lessons learned and improvements that could be made on the
project for those sites with TRU waste across the DOE complex that are contemplating
the use of the Central Characterization Project.
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Norton, J. F.; Lahoud, R. G.; Foster, B. D. & VanMeighem, J. The Nevada Test Site Legacy TRU Waste - The WIPP Central Characterization Project, article, February 25, 2003; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc778607/m1/2/: accessed November 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.