TRU PAC Loading, SRS WIPP Waste (copy)

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

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico received its 12,500th shipment of transuranic waste near the end of June, a milestone in the deep geologic repository's two-decade history.

The shipment came from the U.S. Department of Energy's environmental management program at Idaho National Laboratory, according to a July 2 announcement.

The shipment arrived at WIPP shortly before midnight June 27.

More than 178,500 total waste containers have been sent to WIPP, which is located in the southeastern corner of the state.

WIPP is the nation's only designated repository for TRU waste: clothing, tools, debris and other items contaminated by radioactive elements. WIPP stopped accepting waste shipments in 2014 following several accidents, but shipments were reinstated in 2017.

The Savannah River Site has made more than 1,650 shipments to WIPP through 2014, an SRS spokesperson said Wednesday. Ten shipments to WIPP have been made since it reopened.

"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 said last summer. His prepared remarks came in conjunction with a WIPP shipment announcement.

Dilute-and-dispose, the DOE's preferred Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility alternative, relies heavily on the New Mexico facility, as well.

The disposition method involves mixing plutonium with inert material for disposal elsewhere – in this case WIPP.

The Energy Department's semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration killed the controversial MOX project late last year.

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