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For Immediate Release May 8, 2001
Media Contact: James Giusti  (803) 725-2889


Savannah River Site Sends First Shipment
of Transuranic Waste to WIPP

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AIKEN, S.C., May 8 – The first shipment of transuranic, or TRU, waste from the Savannah River Site (SRS) to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), located in Carlsbad, New Mexico, left the Site shortly after noon today.

This shipment, which consists of 42 drums of transuranic waste, is the first of at least four SRS shipments to WIPP planned for fiscal year 2001. During the next 33 years, SRS plans to ship about 11,000 cubic meters of transuranic waste to WIPP in about 1800 shipments.

"This shipment represents a milestone for Savannah River, allows the Site to focus on disposal rather than only storage, and is a major accomplishment in our efforts to clean up the legacy of the Cold War," said Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham.

TRU waste consists of disposable items such as clothing, tools, rags, residues, debris, and other items contaminated with small quantities of radioactive elements, primarily trace amounts of plutonium. The TRU waste is currently being managed and stored at the SRS Solid Waste Management Facility.

WIPP is designed to permanently dispose of transuranic waste generated by defense-related activities. The facility (which consists of a waste handling building and disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt formation) is approximately 2150 feet (almost one-half mile) beneath the earth’s surface.

Transuranic waste will be safely shipped to WIPP in a specially designed container called Transuranic Packaging Transporter Model 2, or TRUPACT-II. The container is eight-feet in diameter, 10-feet high, doubly-contained, nonvented, and constructed of stainless steel. A series of stringent tests were conducted on the container. The WIPP Panel of the National Academy of Sciences said the container is "safer than that employed for any other hazardous material in the U.S."

 Note to Editors and Directors:

Photographs and video B-roll are available upon request.
Please contact Mike Milnes, WSRC, at (803) 725-2854




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