Nevada Test Site Perspective on Characterization and Loading of Legacy Transuranic Drums Utilizing the Central Characterization Project Page: 3 of 11
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National Laboratory (LLNL), Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL), Lynchburg, and Rocky
Flats Environmental Technology Site (RFETS) among a variety of other sites. Most of the waste
was generated over 20 years ago. The quality assurance rigor required in today's waste
management environment was nonexistent when this waste was generated. This lack of quality
data made the development of Acceptable Knowledge documentation a significant and
problematic effort. It also led to "moments of discovery" throughout the process resulting in
real-time adjustments to cost and schedule from unexpected conditions.
The NTS experience of using the CCP to disposition TRU waste to WIPP is unique and was
based on the strength of the waste program at the NTS (how much could be done on site); the
volume and type of wastes to be processed, and the availability of funded resources. The
decision for SQSs to use the CCP was encouraged by DOE/HQ and DOE/CBFO to make
characterization of small quantities of waste more cost efficient for the complex.
This paper will not attempt to delineate the complete WIPP characterization process nor the
entire chronicle of the NTS experience. It will present a brief overview of NTS TRU operations
and the integrated team that processed the waste. This will be followed by a synopsis of
challenges and how well or poorly they were handled, and potential considerations for other
SQSs, using CCP to help deliver their TRU to WIPP.
OVERVIEW OF NTS TRU CHARACTERIZATION AND LOADING
The Nevada Test Site
The NTS is a remote site that is buffered for public access by vast, federally owned land masses.
A unique national resource, the NTS is a massive outdoor laboratory and national experimental
center that cannot be duplicated. Larger than the state of Rhode Island, its it is approximately
1,375 square miles (3,561 square kilometers or 880,000 acres), make this one of the largest
secured areas in the United States. The NTS is located in southern Nevada about 65 miles (105
kilometers) northwest of Las Vegas. The site varies from 28-35 miles (45-56 kilometers) in
width (east-west) and from 40-55 miles (64-88 kilometers) in length (north-south). The NTS is
bordered on three sides by the Nevada Test and Training Range, another federally owned,
restricted area. This restricted area provides a buffer zone to the north and east between the test
area and land that is open to the public. The combination of the Nevada Test and Training Range
and the NTS is one of the largest unpopulated land areas in the United States, comprising some
5,470 square miles (14,200 square kilometers).
TRU Waste Management Operations
TRU waste is managed at the NTS within the Area 5 Radioactive Waste Management Complex
(RWMC). The TRU facilities consist of the Waste Examination Facility (WEF), the TRU Pad,
and the TRU Pad Cover Building (TPCB). The WEF is comprised of the Visual Examination
and Repackaging Building (VERB), the Drum Holding Area, Sprung Instant Structure (SIS) for
headspace gas sampling and thermal conditioning of drums, and an area for vendor (CCP)
characterization trailers. For long-term storage, the NTS utilizes the TRU Pad and the TPCB.
The TPCB is a high-clearance, bermed, fabric-covered frame structure without electric lighting
or an HVAC system. The TRU Pad hosts an outdoor area for loading trailer-mounted
TRUPACT-II containers using the CCP Mobile Loading Unit (MLU).
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Lahoud, R. G.; Norton, J. F.; Siddoway, I. L. & Griswold, L. W. Nevada Test Site Perspective on Characterization and Loading of Legacy Transuranic Drums Utilizing the Central Characterization Project, article, January 1, 2006; United States. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc894000/m1/3/: accessed April 21, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.