By Associated Press - Wednesday, January 15, 2020

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) - The U.S. government’s only underground nuclear waste repository has taken in its first large shipment in six years, following a process that involved recertification and retraining of workers.

The shipment using a special large cask known as a Transuranic Package Transporter Model 3, or TRUPACT-III, came from the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. It included contaminated glove boxes and other large-scale analytical equipment.

The large casks are 14 feet (4.27 meters) tall, more than 8 feet (2.44 meters) square and weigh about 25 tons. That’s more than double the weight of the containers that are typically used to make shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico.

The larger containers accelerate the pace of cleanup at federal sites across the U.S. Energy Department’s complex and reduces safety risks to workers, officials said.

To get the equipment in working order again, officials said an automated transporter that the cask rides atop was overhauled, and workers were retrained in its use. A payload transfer station where large boxes are pulled from the cask and transferred to a pallet for processing also was repaired.

The first TRUPACT-III came to the repository in 2011 - a dozen years after the facility opened to begin taking the nation’s defense-related waste. TRUPACT-III shipments were halted after a truck fire and unrelated radiological release forced the temporary closure of the repository in 2014.

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