Los Alamos National Labs with logo 2021

Not your average trash day

The Laboratory’s current weapons work results in transuranic waste, which is carefully shipped offsite.
December 1, 2020
Surrounded by several men, Sig Hecker reaches to shake the hand of Yuli Khariton.

The Laboratory's transuranic (TRU) waste must be disposed of in very careful and specific ways.CREDIT: Los Alamos National Laboratory

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By Virginia Grant

The term “transuranic” describes the elements that come after uranium on the periodic table—radioactive elements that aren’t naturally occurring, such as plutonium. Use of these elements results in transuranic (TRU) waste, which has to be disposed of in very careful and specific ways.

41

Number of TRU waste shipments sent from Los Alamos to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), near Carlsbad, New Mexico, from October 2019 to September 2020.

3

Times the amount of TRU waste shipped to WIPP in fiscal year 2020 compared with the previous fiscal year.

722

Total number of TRU waste drums included in shipments to WIPP in fiscal year 2020 (October 2019 to September 2020).

55

Gallons of TRU waste that a typical drum can hold.

51%

Reduction of the Laboratory’s TRU waste at Technical Area-55, home of the Lab's Plutonium Facility, in fiscal year 2020 (compared with fiscal year 2019)

12,705 pounds

The weight of an empty TRUPACT-II (Transuranic Package Transporter Model 2), the container used to transport TRU waste.

14

The number of 55-gallon waste drums that can be held by a TRUPACT-II container.

385 g.

The force that TRUPACT-II waste containers can withstand in a collision with concrete; that’s 385 times the force of gravity (g). For comparison, a car hitting a barrier at 30 mph creates a force of about 20 g.

315

Approximate miles from Los Alamos to WIPP.

1999

Year of the first-ever shipment from Los Alamos to WIPP, on March 26.

 26,975

Number of waste drums shipped from Los Alamos to WIPP since 1999, in a total of 1,447 shipments.


A truck driving on the highway.

TRU waste heads to WIPP.