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Integrated Quality Assurance Program for Transuranic Waste Management at the Los Alamos National Laboratory Plutonium Facility

[+] Author Affiliations
J. J. Balkey, L. J. Sanchez, R. E. Wieneke

Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM

Paper No. ICEM2003-4588, pp. 473-478; 6 pages
  • ASME 2003 9th International Conference on Radioactive Waste Management and Environmental Remediation
  • 9th ASME International Conference on Radioactive Waste Management and Environmental Remediation: Volumes 1, 2, and 3
  • Oxford, England, September 21–25, 2003
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Engineering Division and Environmental Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-3732-7 | eISBN: 0-7918-3731-9
  • Copyright © 2003 by ASME


Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is one of two design laboratories in the United States Department of Energy’s (DOE) weapons complex. It has over 60 years of experience in handling radioactive materials and, consequently, in radioactive waste management. The current focus at LANL for actinide research and development is the Plutonium Facility, which has been in operation since 1978 and is the major source of transuranic (TRU) waste. The Nuclear Materials Technology (NMT) Division is responsible for operating the Plutonium Facility. It has a dedicated group of personnel who manage radioactive and hazardous waste, and address environmental regulations. The TRU Waste Certification Program has prescriptive requirements that must be met for waste to be certified by the DOE’s Carlsbad Field Office, which provides oversight to the final waste repository, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Quality assurance expectations are also well defined, from top-tier documents such as 10 Code of Federal Regulations 830.120. Quality Assurance Requirements, which carry the force of law, through CAO-94-1012, Quality Assurance Program Document, from WIPP, to LANL internal working documents. Internal and external audits are conducted regularly to verify the adequacy of the program for meeting these requirements. To ensure compliance with quality requirements in waste operations, the NMT-7 Waste Management and Environmental Compliance Group has two full-time quality assurance (QA) specialists. They are responsible for maintaining the Quality Assurance Program (QAP). They work directly with waste management personnel, and they are frequently in the field, working beside waste management technicians. They are responsible for ensuring that applicable QAP elements are implemented as required, and that waste operations are effective. They review waste management program documents and waste operations for compliance with requirements, and they observe selected waste operations regularly to ensure that these operations are being conducted in accordance with established procedures. A yearly surveillance schedule is established to guide assessment activities, but it has the flexibility to allow the QA specialists to address any problem areas they may encounter. The QA specialists track performance indicators and evaluate them for systemic issues that may affect quality, including tracking program corrective actions to completion. Monthly reports on QA activities are submitted to group managers. The QA specialists are also asked, on occasion, to lead quality-related investigations and to work with operations personnel to propose solutions. As a direct result of their efforts, the waste management group won Piñon quality assurance recognition from Quality New Mexico for the group’s commitment to quality.

Copyright © 2003 by ASME



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