The Department of Energy (DOE) has approximately 43,000 cubic meters of mixed-low-level waste (MLLW) with alpha emitting concentrations of 10 to 100 nanocuries per gram (nCi/g) generated from the nations defense programs requiring radioactive waste disposal . DOE has decided to commingle MLLW containers with transuranic (TRU) waste containers in larger containers such that the average concentration in the larger container would qualify as TRU waste for deep geologic disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). Since Congress has exempted the WIPP mixed TRU waste from the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)  requirement to treat the waste prior to disposal , the MLLW would not require treatment prior to disposal. The MLLW comprises about 25% of the total WIPP waste disposal volume authorized by Congress.
The purpose of this paper is to examine some of the costs associated with the decision to dispose of these alpha emitting MLLW as TRU waste at WIPP in comparison to the costs for TRU waste, examine some of the costs of low-level waste (LLW) shallow land disposal, address the potential for delay if treated to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hazardous waste Land Disposal Restrictions and to provide some cost comparisons and recommendations for the disposal of additional MLLW in the future resulting from environmental remediation programs and decommissioning and dismantling activities at DOE generating sites. Additionally, the conversion of a less toxic material to meet the more stringent regulatory requirements of a more toxic material is somewhat unique and bears examination.
Radioactive waste disposal – Costs; Radioactive waste sites; Radioactive wastes – Management – Costs
Environmental Policy | Environmental Sciences | Finance and Financial Management | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration
Neill, H. R.,
Neill, R. H.
Converting low-level mixed waste into transuranic waste for geologic disposal at WIPP: A cost analysis.
Proceedings of the 2004 International Waste Management Symposium