Managing Nuclear Materials
LLNL researches and tests nuclear materials to better understand the aging nuclear stockpile. Radioactive waste generated by this effort is identified, characterized, packaged, treated, and certified by the Laboratory’s testing programs for safe, environmentally sound, and compliant waste disposal.
LLNL’s Superblock facility, one of only two defense plutonium research and development facilities in the country, houses state-of-the-art equipment for measuring the physical, chemical, and metallurgical qualities of special nuclear materials such as highly enriched uranium, plutonium, and tritium.
B131 High Bay
The B131 High Bay, along with other engineering test facilities on LLNL’s site, safely stages and stores the radiological and hazardous materials used for programmatic research. Hoods and gloveboxes equipped with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration protect staff completing experiments and diagnostics in these facilities.
Preparing Waste for Shipment
Individual pieces of debris are sorted and separated
Real-time radiography identifies prohibited items
Non-destructive assay measures radioactive isotopes
Other analysis rule out flammable gases and criticality concerns
Waste containers are packed to meet regulations* and withstand impact, water, and extreme heat
Vehicles shipping containers for safe isolation at DOE’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) are inspected by California and Nevada Highway Patrol
*Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Department of Transportation