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 all containers 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 the waste. 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.


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 correct. They said 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 corrosivity characteristic.

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 CAO.

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 audit checklist.

There is currently no radioactive waste at WIPP, and the experimental rooms were closed both because the experiments ended and because of costs.

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