Thomas Johnson Jr. SRSCAB

Savannah River Site deputy manager Thomas Johnson Jr. on Monday provided the Savannah River Site Citizens Advisory Board a broad update on the site.

A batch of transuranic waste is expected to leave the Savannah River Site later this year for disposal, according to a site executive who spoke at a recent nuclear cleanup meeting.

At least two shipments will likely be made, SRS deputy manager Thomas Johnson Jr. said Monday.

"We're getting pretty close to when we'll be able to send out that waste to (an) offsite disposal location," Johnson told members of the Savannah River Site Citizens Advisory Board.

The waste – typically clothing, tools, debris and other items contaminated by radioactive elements – will be sent to New Mexico, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, more specifically.

WIPP, located near the Texas border, is the nation's only designated repository for TRU waste.

TRU PAC Loading, SRS WIPP Waste (copy)

Savannah River Site officials worked with the U.S. Department of Energy's Carlsbad Field Office to complete transuranic waste shipments.

"We continue to work with WIPP, or the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, on the readiness assessment so that we will be able remove the waste from the site," Johnson said.

The waste plant, similar to a deep salt mine, received its 12,500th shipment of TRU waste near the end of June. More than 178,500 total waste containers have been sent to WIPP, according to information provided by the U.S. Department of Energy.

SRS has made more than 1,650 shipments to the New Mexico installation.

"This has been an important mission for SRS, and our employees are committed to ensuring safe, secure and efficient removal of transuranic waste from the state," SRS manager Michael Budney has said.

WIPP stopped accepting waste shipments in 2014 following several accidents. Shipments were reinstated in 2017.

Colin Demarest is the government and Savannah River Site reporter with the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter: @demarest_colin