A deal between Idaho state officials and the U.S. Department of Energy could mean more than half of all the nuclear waste disposed at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad will come from Idaho National Laboratory.
The DOE pledged to allocate at least 55 percent of all future shipments of transuranic (TRU) waste to WIPP as coming from INL.
Idaho will also receive priority when additional shipments are made available, per a news release from the office of Idaho Gov. Brad Little.
The allocation will remain in effect until all TRU waste is shipped out of Idaho.
Records show the DOE shipped more than 31,500 cubic meters of TRU waste from INL to WIPP, as of Nov. 7.
INL is currently the majority shipper of nuclear waste to WIPP, DOE records show, with 6,396 shipments as of Nov. 9, or about 50 percent of the 12,617 shipments received by WIPP since it opened in 1999.
TRU waste is made up of gloves, smocks, clothing and other items radiated during nuclear activities.
It’s considered low-level waste, and permanently disposed of at WIPP when the waste is emplaced in WIPP’s salt mine about 2,000 feet underground. The salt gradually creeps in on itself, burying the waste.
“WIPP coordinates with individual locations, including INL, to determine the best possible utilization of resources for both WIPP and each waste generator site,” said WIPP spokesman Khushroo Ghadiali.
“Currently INL has the greatest volume of ready to ship waste in the DOE complex and as such they represent the majority of shipments to the WIPP site at this time.”
He said the time frames of specified allocations of waste acceptance from various sites throughout the country depends on the needs of those facilities.
WIPP personnel and the DOE work closely to determine policy as to how much waste is accepted from a certain location, Ghadiali said, and how long shipments will be sent.