The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico, began accepting shipments of transuranic waste (PDF) this month for the first time since February 2014 when an explosion of a drum of plutonium and americium waste halted all deliveries.
For now, though, WIPP is able to receive two shipments of transuranic waste per week, which WIPP officials hope will be increased to four shipments per week by the end of 2017. The first shipment received since 2014 happened on April 10, when a truck of waste arrived from Idaho. According to a WIPP press release, “Initial shipments are expected from Idaho, Savannah River Site and Waste Control Specialists. Shipments from Oak Ridge and Los Alamos National Laboratory are expected later this year.”
Waste delivered to WIPP is designated as either “contact-handled” or “remote-handled” based on the absorbed radiation dose a human would experience from handling the waste. Ninety-six percent of the waste to be disposed of at WIPP has a dose rate of less than 200 millirem and can be contact-handled.