From Hanford.gov with our comments in brackets:
“Transuranic Waste Retrieval and Certification
Transuranic waste consists of waste that is contaminated with man-made radioactive elements which are heavier than uranium (meaning the elements have higher atomic numbers than uranium on the Periodic Table of the Elements)” [i.e. plutonium, americium, etc.] “Because they come after uranium on the periodic table, they are referred to as “transuranic”. The concentration of these transuranic elements in the waste determines whether it is transuranic (TRU) waste or low-level waste“. [Note that it is concentration rather than how long-lived and dangerous.]
“More than 70,000 containers of this waste (sometimes referred to as suspect TRU waste) were stored under a layer of dirt in the in the 1970s and 1980s, in the 200 Area Low-Level Burial Grounds of the Hanford Site. The intention was to retrieve the waste (which is why sometimes it is also referred to as retrievably-stored waste) at a later date when a national repository was established to accept transuranic waste.
Transuranic Waste Retrieval and Certification
With the 1999 opening of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) outside of Carlsbad, New Mexico, TRU waste from Hanford is now being retrieved, packaged to meet WIPP’s acceptance criteria, and shipped to WIPP for permanent disposal.”
[But whoops look what happened at WIPP which has been closed now for over 2 years
“The waste was stored in boxes and 55-gallon and 85-gallon drums. The waste consists of tools, clothing, laboratory equipment, and other materials needed during the plutonium production mission at Hanford. As the waste was expected to be dug up when it was originally stored in the 70s and 80s, a typical TRU waste trench consists of several levels of drums stacked on asphalt pads, separated with plywood, draped with tarps, and then covered with dirt.
During retrieval, crews unearth the drums and boxes, check for the stability of the container holding the waste, and determine the level of radioactivity within the container. If the container is damaged or corroded, it must be carefully placed into a second container called an overpack, so that the materials don’t spill onto the ground during removal from trenches and to allow for future characterization for disposal. The stability of the containers holding the waste varies. In some trenches, most of the containers are in good shape and can be safely removed without the need for an overpack. In other trenches, most containers are damaged or corroded requiring an overpack.
Most transuranic elements emit alpha particles, …because alpha particles present an internal hazard, damaged or corroded TRU waste drums require special handling to prevent workers from inhaling the particles. Because of this, crews often work in protective clothing and breathing equipment before they can put such containers into overpacks for safe removal from the trench.” [You don’t want to inhale or eat alpha particles which not only may stay in the body for decades but can cause hard to repair cluster DNA damage, which may lead to cancer or other disease and may even be heritable.]
“Because the definition of transuranic waste (based on the concentration of transuranic elements) has changed over time, only about half of the retrievably-stored waste is considered TRU waste. The other half is low-level waste. The TRU waste is shipped to WIPP for disposal. The low-level waste is treated as necessary and disposed at Hanford.” [This means that there has been a weakening of standards in many respects. However, basing classification on concentration is deceptive anyway and opens up dilute and deceive scams. Diluted plutonium and americium are still plutonium and americium.]
“If the container is determined to contain TRU waste, it must go through a certification process before it can be shipped to WIPP. The process involves x-raying of the container or visually examining its contents to determine if any prohibited items, such as liquids or sealed containers over a certain size, are inside. If prohibited items are identified they are removed at the appropriate facility at Hanford. The concentration of transuranic elements in the container is measured (assayed) to verify that the waste is TRU waste. Once certified for shipment, the waste can be packaged for safe transportation to New Mexico. It’s estimated that more than 1,200 shipments of waste will leave Hanford for the WIPP during the TRU retrieval program. As of 2015, more than 649 shipments of TRU waste have been transported off the Hanford Site, and the equivalent of over 59,000 drums of waste has been removed from the ground.” [What does this mean? That some drums were so corroded they couldn’t tell or what?]
“At the present time, shipments to WIPP are on hold, pending a resumption of WIPP operations.
Note that the above was after a couple of decades.
Formerly buried radioactive waste near Beatty Nevada, which blew up last November. Probably buried between the 1970s and 1990s.
“Low Level radioactive Waste (LLRW) Site near Beatty, Nevada Incident”, November 18, 2015, p. III-8, Nevada State Fire Marshal, Division December 30, 2015 Beatty Incident Report https://web.archive.org/web/20160412235048/http://dps.nv.gov/uploadedFiles/dpsnvgov/content/media/SFM-BeattyIncidentReport.pdf (The Nevada State Fire Marshal said that the immediate cause of exploding waste at Beatty was sodium metal reacting with water and producing hydrogen gas and sodium hydroxide, but the report notes the high level of corrosion which allowed the water to meet the sodium metal)
If we even survive, there will need to be a whole lot of costly digging up of old buried nuclear waste in places like WCS in west Texas. Who will pay? Taxpayers, of course. Germany is currently having to retrieve nuclear waste from a leaking mine or two.
If it hasn’t fallen off into the sea already, as appears the UK plan: