Transuranic waste (also called TRU waste) is a regulatory classification of waste that applies only in the U.S. This type of waste is called “trans-uranic”, because it contains more than 3700 Bq per gram of elements heavier than uranium (the elements with atomic number higher than 92).
TRU waste is comprised of certain wastes from reprocessing and waste from nuclear weapons production. The Department of Energy has considerable TRU in storage and has started sending it to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico.
WIPP, located near Carlsbad in New Mexico, was constructed in the 1980s and has received over 11,900 shipments of TRU wastes since it began operations in 1999. The waste is stored in underground in rooms mined from a 2000-foot-thick salt bed. It is the only repository for TRU wastes from the United States’ weapons programs. The wastes include clothing, tools, rags, residues, debris, soil and other items contaminated with small amounts of plutonium and other man-made radioactive elements.*
Since the U.S. does not reprocess its spent fuel, the commercial nuclear science and technology industry currently produces no transuranic waste.
* Source: World Nuclear News, retrieved 12/20/2018
Center for Nuclear Science and Technology Information of the American Nuclear Society
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