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LANL LANL - Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM, USA.  sends first batch of remote-handled waste to WIPP WIPP Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
WIPP Women Impacting Public Policy
WIPP Waste Isolation Pilot Project
WiPP Working in Partnership Programme (UK; NHS General Medical Services)
WIPP Wireless Internet Protocol Partnership
 after a long wait

The truckload that left Los Alamos National Laboratory Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) (previously known at various times as Site Y, Los Alamos Laboratory, and Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory) is a United States Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory, managed and operated by Los Alamos National  at 4:59 p.m. Tuesday for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or WIPP, is the world's first underground repository licensed to safely and permanently dispose of transuranic radioactive waste that is left from the research and production of nuclear weapons.  in Carlsbad looked a bit like a dumbbell Dumbbell

An investment strategy, used mainly for bonds, where holdings are heavily concentrated in both very short and long term maturities.

This is also known as a barbell, charting on a timeline gives the appearance of a barbell or dumbbell.
 fit for the Incredible Hulk, but its insides weren't made of metal.

Instead, the strange package contained a type of nuclear waste that has been waiting for about two years to leave lab property for final disposal, said Fred de Sousa, a LANL spokesman.

"We had a couple of years' delay as we waited for the Environment Department to approve what's called an Acceptable Knowledge Report, but that was finally approved on April 16," de Sousa said. "We've been ready to ship since 2007, and had done all the training and practice by then."

The waste type, called remote-handled transuranic waste Transuranic waste is defined as:
Waste containing more than 100 nanocuries of alpha-emitting transuranic isotopes per gram of waste with half-lives greater than 20 years, except for high-level radioactive waste...
, consists of plutonium and other radioactive elements that are heavier than uranium. To be remote-handled, the material also must emit 200 or more millirems of radiation dose per hour.

In comparison, an average American's radiation dose is 360 millirems per year and a set of dental X-rays is about 40 millirems.

Most of the waste that LANL is sending to WIPP was created during the Manhattan Project Manhattan Project, the wartime effort to design and build the first nuclear weapons (atomic bombs). With the discovery of fission in 1939, it became clear to scientists that certain radioactive materials could be used to make a bomb of unprecented power. U.S.  and Cold War and consists of things like equipment, tools, clothing and gloves used in bomb-making activities. And most of it emits only alpha radiation Noun 1. alpha radiation - the radiation of alpha particles during radioactive decay
alpha ray

ionizing radiation - high-energy radiation capable of producing ionization in substances through which it passes
, which is a slow-moving type of radiation that can be stopped by a sheet of paper or the outer layer of a person's skin.

But while the lab has been shipping waste that emits less than 200 millirems of radiation dose per hour since 1999, Tuesday marked the first shipment of the higher dose materials.

"It's a big milestone for us, a big accomplishment," de Sousa said. "It's a big step forward in our whole cleanup process."

The remote-handled waste traveled along the same truck route as the lower-dose waste. Trucks take N.M. 599 around Santa Fe Santa Fe, city, Argentina
Santa Fe, city (1991 pop. 341,000), capital of Santa Fe prov., NE Argentina, a river port near the Paraná, with which it is connected by canal.
 to Interstate 25 and N.M. 285 to Carlsbad.

The lab has 101 cubic meters of remote-handled waste, which is about 500 55-gallon drums worth. That waste is buried in 49 concrete-lined shafts in Area G, which the lab plans to close by 2015.

The first shipment contained the equivalent of three 55-gallon drums in a unit called a canister, de Sousa said.

"It's kind of like a Russian egg," de Sousa said. "The waste is in 1 gallon cans, the cans are in 55-gallon drums, the drums are stacked three per one 10-foot canister."

The canisters are lifted by crane from the concrete-lined shafts and lowered into heavily lined casks, with two lids bolted on either end in an inner and outer layer.

The cask is then flipped on its side and capped again, giving it that dumbbell-like appearance.

This summer, the lab plans to ship 16 canisters of remote-handled transuranic waste to WIPP, de Sousa said.

"We're planning to get three to four shipments ready per week," he said. "WIPP actually does the shipments, though. They should all be gone by July."

Casey Gadbury, director of the national transuranic trans·u·ran·ic   also trans·u·ra·ni·um
Having an atomic number greater than 92.

[trans- + uran(ium) + -ic.
 program at the Department of Energy Carlsbad Office, said he couldn't give the exact dates for any of the shipments or when they would be complete because of security reasons.

"Around the next couple of months, we'll get those 16 canisters," Gadbury said.

The rest of the remote-handled waste in Area G needs to be classified and packed for shipping. It hasn't been approved for transportation yet, unlike the first 16 canisters, de Sousa said.

Work packing the rest of the material should begin in October 2010 and end sometime in late 2013, he said.

WIPP has received remote-handled transuranic waste from four other DOE locations so far. Those are the Argonne, Idaho and Oak Ridge national laboratories and the Savannah River Site The Savannah River Site is a nuclear materials processing center in the United States state of South Carolina, located on land in Aiken, Allendale and Barwnell Counties adjacent to the Savannah River 25 miles from Augusta, Georgia. It is operated for the U.S. .

After Los Alamos, there are five other DOE locations that also plan to begin remote-handled waste shipments to WIPP in coming years, Gadbury said.

Contact Sue Vorenberg at
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Publication:The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM)
Date:Jun 3, 2009

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