TESTIMONY OF KENT HUNTER; February 24, 1999.
Mr. Hunter received a B.S. in Engineering Physics,
University of Kansas, 1963.
The next DOE witness was KENT HUNTER who is responsible for
waste disposal operations at the Carlsbad Area Office (CAO).
There are 2 kinds of
hazardous waste: LISTED WASTE, which is defined by the
process that generated it and CHARACTERISTIC WASTE, which is
defined by its chemical properties. Those properties are
corrosive, ignitable, reactive or toxic. Corrosive, ignitable
and reactive wastes are prohibited at WIPP. Only toxic
characteristic waste is planned to go to WIPP. All hazardous
waste receives codes, which tell what type of waste it is, but
will be processed and disposed of in the same way--regardless
of the assigned code.
Generator sites will do all characterization of waste, and
waste will be characterized by waste stream (a quantity of
waste that is produced by similar processes and has the same
chemical, radioactive and hazardous characteristics). Sites
rely primary on ACCEPTABLE KNOWLEDGE (AK) to characterize the
waste. AK is the knowledge of all processes involved in
creating waste and any previous sampling and analysis that was
done. AK is confirmed by HEADSPACE GAS ANALYSIS (HGA) and
REAL TIME RADIOGRAPHY (RTR) for debris waste. HGA and
SAMPLING AND ANALYSIS are used for confirming homogeneous
solids and soil/gravel. Prohibited items are kept out of WIPP
first by checking AK. Those results are then confirmed by
either RTR or VISUAL EXAMINATION (VE) of every container. VE
is a Quality Control check of the RTR.
At this point Mr. Hunter showed a video of RTR on a
simulated drum and on drum S816697 from LANL. RTR showed
that this drum had a greater-than-4-liter sealed container in
it. Such containers are prohibited from disposal at WIPP.
The RTR tape also showed pieces of glass, containers and
other debris in the drum.
Generator sites must develop programs both to characterize
and to document with assurance their ability to characterize
After a site's characterization program is approved by CAO,
CAO visits and audits the site to verify that the program is
effective. When the site is authorized to certify waste by
CAO, characterization information on the waste is entered into
the WIPP Waste Inventory System (WWIS). COA views the WWIS
data before approving a particular shipment. When the
shipment is received at WIPP, it is examined and compared to
the WWIS. DOE doesn't object to NMED
participating in the initial site certification process
(audit) but wants NMED to better define the time involved and
other parameters. However, in the initial Permit Application
DOE proposed to conduct audits without NMED approval of the
final audit reports. After the initial certification, sites
are to be reviewed annually.
HIGHLIGHTS OF CROSS EXAMINATION OF KENT HUNTER
Part of characterization is to determine if the waste is
hazardous and to apply the right hazardous waste codes. One
way to determine characteristics of the waste is by analyzing
a representative sample of it. Debris waste (laboratory trash,
etc.) is not homogeneous waste. One cannot take a
representative sample of debris waste, but the DOE will rely
on AK with confirmatory verification.
WIPP is different from most hazardous waste disposal sites
in that no characterization of the waste will be done at the
disposal facility itself.
Headspace Gas Sampling and Analysis: Gas may be present
throughout the waste matrix of a container as well as in INNER
LAYERS OF CONFINEMENT such as sealed plastic bags and sealed
rigid containers. DOE doesn't propose to sample gas in inner
containers. The Permit requires 100% headspace gas analysis
of containers, but DOE wants to do less sampling.
RTR: can detect inner containers but may or may not show
whether the container is sealed or not.
Don Hancock of Southwest Research and Information Center
(SRIC), one of the parties to the proceeding, showed Mr.
Hunter a copy of LANL's document "TRU Waste
Characterization Sampling Plan." That document states
that drum S811697 (which was shown in the video as part of Mr.
Hunter's direct testimony), part of waste stream TA-5538,
contained cemented inorganics
and spent samples, NOT the debris waste that appeared on the
video! Acceptable knowledge on this drum--mistakenly
describing it as homogeneous solids--was approved and audited.
To make matters worse, AK procedures and documents at LANL
were certified by the CAO even though LANL was not authorized
to characterize homogeneous solids. The TA-55-38 waste stream
did not meet the certification requirements. Mr. Hunter ended
by saying there was no problem with the AK for drum S811697!
The DOE then complained
that the "TRU Waste Characterization Sampling Plan"
was not the latest version of the document and that Don
Hancock was trying to confuse the
witness and get him to testify to something that was not
they would bring in the latest version of the document.
When the latest version of the "TRU Waste
Characterization Sampling Plan" was brought in the next
day, however, it was found to contain exactly the
same information as the previous document. DOE said it was
classified as homogeneous solids because of some material that
was on the broken pieces of glass crucibles in the waste.
DOE wants to limit VE for worker safety, but no data was
collected on worker exposure related to VE.
Some LANL waste will be shipped in steel drums. Rust was
found in some of the drums on interior surfaces including one
drum with "light rust on entire interior drum lid."
Rust is an indication of corrosion. Corrosive
wastes are prohibited at WIPP.
The DOE proposes to dispose of waste from California and
Washington states that have different regulatory programs for
hazardous waste. However, Mr. Hunter did not know whether
those states characterize waste differently for the
RTR is confirmed by VE on statistically selected numbers of
containers based on the accuracy of results of the prior year.
[Please see "Issues and Problems with the WIPP
Site."] There is a time lag between this MISCERTIFICATION
RATE and when it is applied. Of the 3 sites that have been
characterizing waste, the miscertification rate at the Idaho
National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL)
remains at 2%, Rocky Flats' rate is 3.6%, and LANL's rate is
11%. [All sites start with a 2% miscertification rate
because, "You have to start somewhere."]
A Corrective Action Report (CAR) from LANL and other
documents were introduced showing that there had been
difficulty over time with RTR
operators being able to recognized sealed containers greater
than 4 liters in the waste. Although operators were trained
to recognize these prohibited items, the problem reoccurred
causing a Suspend Work Order to be filed for RTR of debris
waste at LANL for a month in March 1998. Operators were
retrained. Possibly 1,000 drums were affected. However, it
was brought out that this prohibition was a transportation
prohibition not a RCRA prohibition, and the hearing officer
said it was, therefore, a peripheral issue. Nevertheless,
these containers could contain RCRA constituents that are
prohibited at WIPP.
Remote-Handled (RH) waste: No sites have characterized RH
waste for disposal at WIPP or have been approved to do this by
The Land Withdrawal Act (LWA), passed by Congress in 1992,
states that WIPP is for defense transuranic waste only. This
determination is made at the generator sites. Co-mingling of
defense and nondefense waste takes place at LANL.
PCBs will not be analyzed in headspace gas analysis.
As much as 100% of a container can be filled with
respirable, unsolidified, homogeneous solids (particles less
than 10 microns in size). These
residues will be repacked and characterized as newly generated
wastes. When repackaged, 100% of the containers are visually
examined but will only be sampled once per year per waste
stream or per process batch.
There are at least 3 levels of verification review of
documents. DOE wants to eliminate 2 of them from the Permit
requirements. However, if the original data is incorrect,
further document review will only verify that the document has
been filled in correctly, not that the information is actually
correct. DOE also wants to eliminate the review at WIPP of 1%
of the RTR tapes of shipped containers--a review of actual
data. In addition DOE wants to eliminate the weekly review of
current processes to see if
they have changed. DOE proposes to review them
"periodically." Periodically could mean yearly or
every 5 years. DOE also wants to eliminate notifying NMED if
the process has changed. Instead of choosing the
miscertification rate of drums to be visually examined from a
waste stream, the DOE wants to choose the 211% of drums from
the total population of RTR analyzed drums at a site, which
could include many waste streams.
The DOE wants to do less headspace sampling and analysis
than the 100% of containers now required in the draft Permit.
AK would be used along with analysis of a statistically
selected sample of containers to determine headspace gas
contents. It would be impossible to know what percentage of
drums was sampled ahead of time. In fact, the percentage
would only be known after the fact--after drums had been
sampled and analyzed and reported in an audit. The DOE claims
the100% figure came from the WIPP bin scale tests in the early
1990's and such extensive characterization is not needed now.
In fact, 58% of the drums for the bin-scale tests were
incorrectly certified. Mr. Hunter said they were certified to
one version of the Waste Acceptance Criteria (WAC), but when
visually examined for the bin-scale tests they failed under
another more stringent version of the WAC and under
transportation guidelines which are not related to RCRA.
Since the DOE does not propose to do
"fingerprinting" (sampling upon receipt of waste at
the disposal site), the only method available to make
sure the Waste Analysis Plan (WAP) procedures are implemented
is the audit. Again, the DOE does not object to NMED
participation in verifying implementation of the audit or
submittal of the final audit report. What the DOE wants is a
timeframe for approval of the audit, no public comment on the
audit, and the resolution of all conflicts raised during the
audit to be closed during the audit (just a target, not a
requirement). Further, the DOE objects to the use of the
There is currently no radioactive waste at WIPP, and the
experimental rooms were closed both because the experiments
ended and because of costs.