The Nevada Test Site Legacy TRU Waste - The WIPP Central Characterization Project Page: 3 of 12
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WM'03 Conference, February 23-27, 2003, Tucson, AZ
HISTORY OF THE NEVADA TEST SITE LEGACY TRANSURANIC WASTE
Currently, the NTS is storing a number of different TRU waste streams in different forms
of packaging. The bulk of the TRU waste currently stored at the NTS (approximately
1650 containers) was received from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).
This waste, packaged in 55-gallon drums, 85-gallon overpacks and metal boxes of
differing dimensions, consists of LLNL glovebox bag-out debris waste, uncategorized
metal debris, and a small number of sludge drums. Other TRU waste streams include
miscellaneous debris wastes obtained from the Rocky Flats Plant, Lawrence Berkeley
Laboratory, and EG&G in addition to soil and gravel debris wastes generated from
environmental restoration activities. The entire TRU waste inventory at the NTS consists
of approximately 2000 containers. Most of the TRU waste inventory is packaged in 55-
gallon metal drums.
Subsequent to arrival at the NTS, the LLNL-generated TRU waste drum inventory was
placed inside vented 85-gallon overpack containers to protect against weathering. These
overpack containers were removed during earlier campaigns beginning in 1997 as
individual containers were characterized during earlier campaigns. Approximately 700
55-gallon drums are currently stored inside vented 85-gallon overpack containers. Most
of the TRU waste inventory is packaged in 55-gallon metal drums. The drum population
that is stored in 85-gallon overpacks causes a number of concerns in the characterization
process. During storage in an overpack, condensation builds up within the overpack and
causes the interior drum holding the waste to rust. In order to perform characterization on
the drum, it must be removed from the overpack. The rust build up due to condensation
compromises container integrity as specified in the WIPP WAC, therefore necessitating
the added expense of repackaging in lieu of radiography. In order to perform
characterization on the drum, it must be removed from the overpack.
Some of the legacy TRU waste is packaged in 58 metal boxes of various sizes and
shapes. These boxes are larger than standard waste boxes and, therefore cannot be
characterized by the CCP vendors nor can the boxes in their current configuration be
transported in WIPP-required TRUPACT II shipping casks. Consequently, this waste has
a different disposition path and will not be processed by the CCP.
Over the last few decades, while the NTS legacy TRU waste has been stored, the DOE
has undertaken numerous campaigns with vendors to perform characterization of the
NTS legacy TRU waste. Trying to meet the portion of the WIPP hazardous waste permit
known as the Waste Analysis Plan (WAP), the NNSA/NV has attempted to make drums
available for shipment but has been unable to obtain a site certification. The most recent
audit was performed on the Central Characterization Project, not on the NTS
characterization programs as designed in the past. The M&O contractor at the NTS has
developed and maintained a Visual Examination (VE) program that has processed
approximately 600 drums since October 1997. This program was retained at the NTS for
use by the CCP during this campaign. Although the VE process at the NTS is a very
efficient one, the drums previously run through the process were not through a CBFO
certified program, therefore the data was not acceptable for characterization of the waste.
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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/m1/3/: accessed January 16, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.