N3B waste handling operators mine containers of transuranic radioactive waste from historical Los Alamos National Laboratory operations to prepare for shipment to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, where it will be permanently and safely stored in underground salt beds. N3B exceeded its waste shipment goals in FY22 by more than 70 percent. Photo Courtesy N3B
N3B crews use a mobile-loading unit to place containers of LANL’s legacy transuranic waste into casks, known as TRUPACTS, which are approved for transport on public roadways to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad. Photo Courtesy N3B
With the mobile loading unit, operators secure the TRUPACT lid prior to shipping LANL’s legacy transuranic waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad. Photo Courtesy N3B
EM-LA NEWS RELEASE
The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management (DOE-EM) Los Alamos Field Office (EM-LA) and its cleanup contractor Newport News Nuclear BWXT-Los Alamos (N3B) finished fiscal year 2022 (FY22) by exceeding DOE-EM’s goals for shipping radioactive waste off-site to permanent disposal facilities. This is a key accomplishment in DOE-EM’s mission to protect human and ecological health by addressing environmental impacts from Manhattan Project and Cold War operations.
EM-LA and N3B finished FY22 strong by completing 52 shipments of transuranic (TRU) radioactive waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), exceeding EM-LA’s FY22 goal by over 70 percent. The shipments included more than 130 cubic meters of waste, or the equivalent of approximately 625 55-gallon drums.
“Stakeholder engagement is an important part of the EM-LA cleanup mission, and the feedback I receive is shipping more TRU waste to WIPP should be a key priority,” said Michael Mikolanis, EM-LA manager. “Additionally, our partnership with N3B, WIPP and Triad National Security LLC — the organization managing and operating Los Alamos National Laboratory — has enabled us to implement efficiencies. We surpassed our FY22 TRU waste shipment goal by over 70 percent, which is a testament to our focus to get legacy waste off the hill and to our commitment to the citizens of New Mexico.”
Based on DOE-EM’s annual Mission and Priorities, the Los Alamos site’s goal was to complete 30 TRU waste shipments to WIPP. Remediating and shipping legacy waste from Los Alamos is a key cleanup project for DOE-EM, and Los Alamos is the only site included as a priority goal for transuranic waste shipments.
The new DOE-EM yearly goal for Los Alamos moving forward will be 40 TRU waste shipments to WIPP. This 33 percent increase in the future shipping goal is thanks in large part to an increase in efficiencies in packaging and shipping the waste as well as enhanced coordination between EM-LA and WIPP.
“Exceeding our FY22 goal means we’re successful at accelerating our movement of waste out of Technical Area 54, where we manage radioactive waste before it’s shipped off-site to a permanent disposal facility,” said Ellen Gammon, N3B’s director of Waste Management. “The ability to use Triad’s indoor loading facility has allowed us to package waste for shipment in inclement weather.”
EM-LA and N3B also ended FY22 exceeding an additional shipping goal by having shipped off-site 350 containers of mixed low-level and low-level radioactive waste, which amounts to about 560 cubic meters, or approximately 2,690 55-gallon drums. With the DOE-EM goal for Los Alamos of 250 containers and 500 cubic meters of waste, this achievement outpaced the FY22 goal by 100 containers.
The EM Los Alamos Field Office (EM-LA) is dedicated to the cleanup of legacy contamination left behind by nuclear weapons production and research during the Manhattan Project and Cold War era at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico. EM-LA’s cleanup mission includes legacy waste remediation and disposition, soil and groundwater remediation, and deactivation and decommissioning of excess buildings and facilities.
About N3B Los Alamos
N3B is an HII Nuclear-led company with BWX Technologies, with critical subcontractors Longenecker & Associates and Tech2 Solutions. N3B implements the $1.4 billion, 10-year Los Alamos Legacy Cleanup Contract.