Nuclear Materials Operations

Defense Programs

Nuclear Nonproliferation

Waste Management





Waste Management

Over 30,000 55-gallon drums of the TRU waste inventory have been shipped off-site

SRNS is responsible for waste management and disposition of certain radioactive wastes at SRS, including low-level solid and liquid waste (which includes items such as protective clothing, tools and equipment that have become contaminated with small amounts of radioactive material); and transuranic waste, which contains alpha-emitting isotopes with an atomic number greater than uranium. Other wastes include hazardous waste, which is any toxic, corrosive, reactive or ignitable material that could affect human health or the environment; mixed waste, which contains both hazardous and radioactive components; and sanitary waste, which, like ordinary municipal waste, is neither radioactive nor hazardous.

A shipment of TRU waste is ready to leave SRS for WIPP
A shipment of TRU waste is ready to leave SRS for WIPP

SRNS disposes of low-level radioactive waste on-site in specially engineered facilities. Some types of low-level waste are technically unsuitable for disposal at SRS waste management facilities. In July 2001, SRS began shipping some of these wastes to off-site treatment and disposal facilities.

Waste is loaded into a shipping container
Waste is loaded into a shipping container

Transuranic (TRU) waste had been stored temporarily at SRS until the opening of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico; WIPP is a DOE deep geological disposal facility specifically designed for TRU waste. In 2001, SRS began shipping its TRU waste, about 28,000 legacy drums—about 6,000 cubic meters—to WIPP. At the end of 2009, over 30,000 55-gallon drums, or 6,000 cubic meters, of the original TRU waste inventory has been shipped. SRS’s current projections have the Site scheduled to ship all of the SRS TRU drummed waste to WIPP by 2012, 24 years ahead of the original base­line.

Hazardous waste is routinely shipped offsite to commercial facilities for treatment and disposal.

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