Waste rule change affects Savannah River Site

New Mexico plant's standards revised after accident

The Department of Energy has issued new criteria for the acceptance of transuranic waste at the Waste Iso­lation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M.


According to a news release, the changes are being made in response to an accident investigation board’s report on a radiological release at the plant in February 2014. The repository stopped taking all waste shipments after an underground truck caught fire and, nine days later, a radiation release contaminated workers.

Transuranic waste is a form of low-level waste that includes tools, lab coats, debris and other items contaminated with radiation.

The revision goes into effect July 5, and transuranic waste generator site programs, including Savannah River Site, will temporarily suspend certification of such waste pending a determination that they comply with the revised criteria.

The Energy Department is also implementing Environmental Pro­tec­tion Agency standards to evaluate and identify treatment for waste containing oxidizers.

All previously certified waste containers not currently disposed at the New Mexico site will need to be validated to ensure the revised requirements are met before shipment there. Some waste might need to be treated and repackaged before shipment, but it will take the Energy De­part­ment several months to determine which, if any, wastes might be affected.

About 1,000 drums across the country meet this new standard. Although some waste might need to be retreated and repackaged, it isn’t expected to affect the reopening of the New Mexico site.

At SRS, the Energy Department and its contractors will establish a path forward to meet the new requirements, according to the release.



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