Nuclear, Waste Management & Decommissioning

Nuclear Waste Shipments Resume to U.S. Underground Repository

By Editors of Power Engineering

Shipments of nuclear waste to the sole underground nuclear repository in the United States have resumed, the U.S. Energy Department said.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico was forced to close in February 2014 after an improperly packed drum of waste ruptured, the Associated Press reported.

The first shipment after the closure came from a federal facility in Idaho, with more expected from Savannah River in South Carolina and Waste Control Specialists in West Texas in the near future. Los Alamos National Laboratory and Oak Ridge in Tennessee are also expected to send shipments later this year.

The repository will receive two shipments per week at first and gradually ramp up to four per week by the end of this year.

The process of moving the spent fuel into vaults dug out a half-mile below the surface now takes more time due to new procedures that require extra clothing, respirators and heavy monitoring devices.

During the closure, nuclear waste was stored above ground at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.