TRU Waste Management
Transuranic Waste Management
TRU Waste Management at Area G History
Technical Area 54 (TA-54) is Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL) legacy waste management area. Opened in 1957, Area G is a site within TA-54 that contains past radioactive waste disposal areas. This area includes 32 pits, 194 shafts, and four trenches with depths ranging from 10 to 65 feet below the original ground surface. Area G is now dedicated to storing, characterizing, and remediating LANL’s transuranic (TRU) and low-level waste to ship it offsite for permanent disposal.
Ensure contaminated waste from past LANL operations do not threaten human and environmental health
Store, remediate and ship LANL’s above-ground transuranic waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
The TRU waste containers are stored in domes equipped with fire detection and air monitoring systems. The containers are routinely monitored and inspected. TRU waste from LANL’s past defense-related activities is intended to be disposed deep underground at the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in southeastern New Mexico. Prior to shipment, the containers and their contents are independently, non-destructively analyzed and certified under a state- and Environmental Protection Agency-approved program to confirm that containers meet the WIPP Waste Acceptance Criteria.
TRU waste is radioactive waste containing more than 100 nanocuries of alpha-emitting transuranic isotopes per gram of waste, with half-lives greater than 20 years. Transuranic elements are those greater than uranium on the Periodic Table of Elements. All TRU waste at LANL is “contact-handled,” meaning it can be safely handled directly by workers using protection.
April 2019 Status
• Above-ground waste has been inventoried
• Initiated mobile loading for shipment of waste to WIPP
• TRU waste shipments to WIPP have resumed
Shipping Waste Offsite
Mobile loading capabilities are fully operational at Area G, enabling TRU waste to be shipped to WIPP, weather and schedule permitting. TRU waste containers destined for WIPP—such as drums, standard waste boxes, and 10-drum overpacks—are secured inside robust shipping casks that have met strict Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) requirements and testing under extreme conditions.
WIPP WASTE ACCEPTANCE CRITERIA
LANL and other generator sites must comply with criteria regulating the storage, transportation, and disposal of contact handled TRU waste at WIPP. The requirements are implemented and verified to ensure that waste management and disposal adequately protect human health and the environment.
By the Numbers
Containers of above-ground TRU waste to be removed from Area G
Minimum number of shipments to be made in fiscal year 2019
Estimated number of shipments to complete the Area G TRU waste shipping campaign
Other waste management activities at Area G unrelated to the current TRU campaign include removal and remediation of suspected TRU waste from below-grade pits, shafts, and trenches. Work at Area G also includes preparing mixed low-level waste and low-level waste for transport to offsite disposal facilities.