Shallow buried transuranic waste: A comparison of remediation alternatives at Los Alamos National Laboratory

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2009

Publication Title

Natural Resources Journal


University of New Mexico






As part of its overall cleanup activities, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has identified two alternative remediation plans for the 126,000 cubic meters (m3) of radioactive transuranic (TRU) waste generated from defense-program activities that were disposed in shallow burial at DOE sites before 1970: (1) removal for deep geologic disposal, or (2) on-site containment. This article identifies and compares the different legal requirements for the disposal of TRU waste, notes differences in DOE’s plans for remediation, and summarizes federal remediation decisions for this waste at DOE generator sites. The article then evaluates these two disposal options at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where DOE has not yet made a decision on remediation for TRU waste containing 20,800 Curies of radioactivity. If DOE’s remediation goals are to protect public health and the environment from long-term risks and demonstrate consistency in national TRU waste management practices, then this article recommends that DOE exhume these materials at Los Alamos and dispose of them at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in southern New Mexico. Otherwise, DOE should publish a 10,000-year performance assessment of the two disposal alternatives.


New Mexico – Los Alamos; Radioactive waste disposal; Radioactive waste sites; Radioactive wastes – Management


Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Sciences | Oil, Gas, and Energy




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Publisher Citation

Neill, Helen R., and Robert H. Neill. "Shallow-Buried Transuranic Waste: A Comparison of Remediation Alternatives at Los Alamos National Laboratory." Nat. Resources J. 49 (2009): 151.

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