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Transuranic waste is defined as:

Waste containing more than 100 nanocuries of alpha-emitting transuranic isotopes per gram of waste with half-lives greater than 20 years, except for high-level waste... All TRU elements are heavier than uranium, have several isotopes, and are typically man-made. Key radionuclides found in TRU waste include americium-241 and several isotopes of plutonium.

Transuranic waste (TRUW) as stated by U.S. regulations is, independent of state or origin, waste which has been contaminated with alpha emitting transuranic radionuclides, possessing half-lives greater than twenty years, and in concentrations greater than 100 nCi/g (3.7 MBq/kg)(Excluding High Level Wastes). Elements having atomic numbers greater than that of uranium are called transuranic (after uranium). Because of the elements' longer half-lives, TRUW is disposed more cautiously than LLW and ILW. In the U.S. it is a byproduct of weapons production, and consists of protective gear, tools, residue, debris and other items contaminated with small amounts of radioactive elements (mainly plutonium).

Under U.S. law, TRUW is further categorized into "contact-handled" (CH) and "remote-handled" (RH) on the basis of radiation dose measured at the surface of the waste container. CH TRUW has a surface dose rate not greater than 200 mrem per hour (2 mSv/h), whereas RH TRUW has a surface dose rate of 200 mrem per hour (2 mSv/h) or greater. CH TRUW does not have the very high radioactivity of high level waste, nor its high heat generation, but RH TRUW can be highly radioactive, with surface dose rates up to 1000 rem per hour (10 Sv/h)[citation needed]. The United States currently permanently disposes of TRUW generated from nuclear power plants and military facilities at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.[10]

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant(WIPP), a geologic disposal facility where packages of TRU waste are emplaced in an underground salt dome is the only area in the US for disposal of transuranic wastes. Other countries do not include this category, favoring variations of High, Medium, and Low Level waste.


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