In many nuclear facilities, contamination of packaging materials is a
problem. For example, if a tool or material (e.g., a pump or some ion
exchange resin) is to be used in a contaminated area, as much of the
packaging material must be removed as possible before the material
enters the radiological area.
Another opportunity for waste minimization occurs when materials are
used as a contingency protection against contamination. For example,
strippable coatings may be applied to an area that is not expected to
become contaminated or may receive only minor contamination so that it
can be easily cleaned. Another example involves the disposition of
disposable surgeons' gloves, which are routinely worn inside glove-box
gloves. Unless there are serious contamination control problems in the
facility, these can be surveyed and disposed of as sanitary waste rather
than LLW or TRU waste.
If a piece of equipment is to have more than a single use in a
contaminated environment, every possible measure should be taken to
ensure its continued reliability rather than relying on frequent
replacements. Tools should be of the highest quality and maximum
flexibility consistent with the situation. For example, if a wrench is
needed to maintain a piece of equipment in a glove-box, consideration
should be given to future needs and storage provisions. A socket set with
interchangeable sockets may ultimately create less waste than a box-end
wrench of each size that is needed.
Likewise, all tools and equipment to be placed in a contaminated
environment should be tested for reliability and preferably used on a
clean mock-up to ensure their serviceability before they become
contaminated. There is often a temptation to put the equipment into the
plutonium service when it first arrives rather than test it completely first.
This can result in unnecessary waste volume.
Waste Classification Control
Many operational controls involve measures to ensure that the waste
generated is TRU waste rather than mixed-TRU waste, or that if it is
mixed-TRU, it is of a composition that can be treated. Tight controls in
the following areas are necessary to minimize mixed waste (and
hazardous waste) problems: procurement of hazardous chemicals, actions
of subcontractors and vendors, and training of workers. In some cases,
decontamination processes have been used that result in mixed waste,
such as Freon cleaning, electropolishing, and chemical decontamination.
These should be used only after due consideration of the waste
management consequences. In some cases, these mixed wastes can be
readily treated; in other cases, their use needs to be avoided. Some new
techniques are designed specifically for waste minimization and waste
classification control. For example, one method involves abrasive
blasting with solid carbon dioxide (dry ice), which sublimes after use and
can be exhausted through a HEPA filter, leaving no added material to the