Transuranic (TRU) waste leaving the Plutonium Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is packaged using LANL’s waste acceptance criteria for onsite storage. Before shipment to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in southeastern New Mexico, each payload container is subject to rigorous characterization to ensure compliance with WIPP waste acceptance criteria and Department of Transportation regulations. Techniques used for waste characterization include nondestructive examination by WIPP-certified real-time radiography (RTR) and nondestructive assay (NDA) of containers, as well as headspace gas sampling to ensure that hydrogen and other flammable gases remain at safe levels during transport. These techniques are performed under a rigorous quality assurance program to confirm that results are accurate and reproducible. If containers are deemed problematic, corrective action is implemented before they are shipped to WIPP. A defensive approach was used for many years to minimize the number of problematic drums. However, based on review of data associated with headspace gas sampling, NDA and RTR results, and enhanced coordination with the entities responsible for waste certification, many changes have been implemented to facilitate packaging of TRU waste drums with higher isotopic loading at the Plutonium Facility at an unprecedented rate while ensuring compliance with waste acceptance criteria. This paper summarizes the details of technical changes and related administrative coordination activities, such as information sharing among the certification entities, generators, waste packagers, and shippers. It discusses the results of all such cumulative changes that have been implemented at the Plutonium Facility and gives readers a preview of what LANL has accomplished to expeditiously certify and dispose of newly generated TRU waste.

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