7-acre desert site building at Idaho National Laboratory emptied, awaiting destruction

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) collects waste from across the country. WIPP is the nation’s only repository for the disposal of nuclear waste known as transuranic, or TRU, waste. Most of the waste slated for WIPP disposal comes from the remediation of sites used to produce atomic weapons during World War II and through the Cold War. WIPP’s original planned closure date was 2024.


The Transuranic Storage Area/Retrieval Enclosure at the desert site of Idaho National Laboratory has been emptied and is awaiting demolition according to a Fluor press release. This will be the first building closed as part of a three phase closing of the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Projects complex.

The TSA/RE, part of the AMWTP complex, was built over an above-ground waste storage pad which housed Cold War weapons waste. Once covered, Fluor used the facility to characterize, treat, repackage, certify, and ship the waste out of Idaho.

Barrels and boxes of waste, heavy equipment, and metal debris were removed. Over the last 20 years more than 100,000 waste containers have been removed from the facility. Fluor personnel are removing the asphalt floor of the building and will dispose of the material at an on-site landfill, the release said.

Cleanup of the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Unit, including solid waste such as trash, tools, and clothes, is part of the 1995 settlement agreement to clean up waste from the Manhattan project and Cold War-era.

The roughly 7-acre TSA/RE building was placed over the above-ground waste storage pad that stored waste generated from the Rocky Flats Plant near Denver and other facilities during the height of the Cold War, the press release said. The waste was occasionally covered with soil and compacted with heavy machinery. The north end of the building will be demolished to make way for a drainage canal that will channel water from the nearby 97-acre Subsurface Disposal Area, which will be capped with native rocks and soil, according to the release.

Inside the TSA/RE building two decontamination tents used for repackaging large, contaminated items were demolished and three forklifts were decontaminated.

Once the remaining transuranic and low-level waste is transferred out of Idaho, the treatment facility and remaining AMWTP buildings will be closed. Waste shipments will continue through 2028 at the current pace.

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