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114 Improving the Characterization Program for Contact-Handled Transuranic Waste TRU waste at the Savannah River Site indicates considerable variability in Americium-241 activity (DOE-FENS, 1997~. The isotopic mix varies substantially from year to year; from 1970 to 1995, waste streams at the site had Americium-241 activity ranging from zero to 546 curies. Waste retrieval and packaging for shipment to WIPP involve the entire inventory, (i.e., drums and culverts are selected for characterization without consideration of isotopic mix). r E.4 Case Study: Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site has had more experience than any other site in the processing and management of TRU waste. This site sent the first shipment of CH-TRU waste to WIPP on June 16, 1999. As of December 2003, more than 1,000 shipments have been made from Rocky Flats to WIPP. Rocky Flats is in the terminal phase of its operations and it is projected that the facility will complete waste processing and shipments by 2006. Plutonium "pits" used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons were produced at the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site. Consequently, most of the Rocky Fiats waste consists of waste contaminated with Plutonium-239. Plutonium is an alpha emitter and produces significant neutron dose rates when the alpha particles interact with low- atomic-number elements in the waste. There is also a gamma-ray component to the container surface dose rate due to the presence of Americium-241. High-temperature processing was one of the steps involved in the production of plutonium pits. Therefore, DOE negotiated with the New Mexico Environment Department, an exemption from the headspace gas sampling and analysis requirement for some of the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site TRU waste, because thermally treated waste cannot contain any residual volatile organic compound (see Chapter 3~. Some of the TRU waste at the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site was also solidified in a cement matrix. In 1992, nuclear weapons-related production was halted at Rocky Flats, and DOE began the processes of decontamination and decommissioning of buildings and environmental restoration. A very large amount of alpha-contaminated gIoveboxes, piping, fluoride salts, equipment, and scrap material had to be processed for packaging and shipment, in addition to a substantial amount of contaminated soil in the surrounding areas. E.4.1 Workers closes and risks from operations In 2002, 215 persons (including waste handlers, on-site transporters, and others Involved in drum processing) were monitored. Of these, 205 had measurable exposures. The collective dose to all monitored persons was 36,800 person-millirem for 2002. The average surface dose rate for processed containers is 6.57 mrem per hour. Workers at the Rocky Flats Environmental Technoloov Site have an orcler-of- magnitude higher exposure than those at Savannah River Site, although it is still small relative to permissible limits. The increased worker exposures are due to handling and processing containers with significantly higher surface dose rates. Retrieving drums of approved waste from storage locations at the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site required moving non-approved waste drums out of the way to allow access to the desired drum (the so-called dance of the drums, see Section 4.6~. With operational experience, less time is expended looking for a single drum, and the cirum mining and moving operations have been minimized (DOE-CABE, 2003~. Drum handling and processing experience and use of best available practices have resulted in significant reductions in personnel exposures. Radiation exposure received by personnel in the shipping facilities at the Rocky Flats Environmental

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Appendix E Health and Safety Issues 115 Technology Site (Buildings 440 and 664) has been used to document trends in personnel dose related to WIPP operations. In 2000 the cumulative dose per shipment was 250 mrem; in 2003 the cumulative dose per shipment was reduced to 50 mrem. The information gathered on the Rocky Flats site indicates that streamlining the characterization process can have a beneficial impact on worker doses (Spears, 2003~. Surface dose rates from drums originating from the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site average approximately ~ mrem per hour (about 100 of the 19,000 drums emplaced at WIPP had surface dose rates in excess of ~ 0 mrem per hour). , . , ..... .. References DOE-CABE (U.S. Department of Energy-Center for Acquisition and Business Excellence). 2003. WIPP TRU Characterization Cost Analysis. May 1. Final Draft. National Energy Technology Laboratory. Morgantown, W.Va. DOE-FSElS (DOE-Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement). 1997. Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Disposal Phase Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. September. DOE/ElS-0026-S-2. CarIsbad, N.Mex. DOE-SRS (DOE-Savannah River Site). 2003a. Solid Waste Management Facility: Facility Overview for National Academy of Sciences. Document provided to the Committee on Optimizing the Characterization and Transportation of Transuranic Waste Destined for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Augusta, Gal, March 4. DOE-SRS. 2003b. TRU Waste Characterization Dose Estimate. Document provided to the Committee on Optimizing the Characterization and Transportation of Transuranic Waste Destined for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Augusta, Gal, March 4. EEG (Environmental Evaluation Group). ~990. Risk Analysis of the Transport of Contact Handled Transuranic (CH-TRU) Wastes to WIPP along Selected Highway Routes in New Mexico Using RADTRAN IV. A. F. Gallenos and J. K. Channell. EEG-46. - Albuquerque, N. Mex. Available at: . EEG. 1999. A Comparison of the Risks from the Hazardous Waste and Radioactive Waste Portions of WIPP Inventory. J. K. Channell and R. H. Neill. EEG-72. Albuquerque, N.Mex. Available at: . McCulia, W. H., and G. D. Van Soest. 2003. Analysis of Volatile Organic Compound Levels in the Transuranic Waste Inventory. LANL-EES-12. September 4 Draft. Los Alamos, N.Mex. Nelson, R. A. 2003. What's in WIPP? Four Years Radioactive Waste Disposal, Three Years Hazardous Waste Disposal. Presentation to the Committee on Optimizing the Characterization and Transportation of Transuranic Waste Destined for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Santa Fe, N.Mex., January 27. NRC (National Research Councit). 1990. Health Effects of Exposure to Low Levels of ionizing Radiation: BEIR V. National Academy Press. Washington, D.C. Available at: