Since 2003, the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project (AMWTP) has used both conventional and unique retrieval concepts, high-tech characterization equipment - including real-time radiography and radioassay - robotics, and automated treatment processes to retrieve, treat, and ship above-ground CH-TRU and low-level wastes from an inventory of 65,000 cubic meters.
The signature piece of equipment at AMWTP is the Supercompactor, a giant hydraulic ram capable of exerting 4 million pounds of force that can reduce a 35-inch-tall, 55-gallon barrel to a five-inch puck. By compacting waste, DOE is capable of putting more waste in the limited storage space of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. One-half of all waste permanently disposed at WIPP has been treated at AMWTP; the majority of that waste was compacted by the Supercompactor. Compaction also reduces the number of trips required to transport waste to WIPP.
In addition to processing the TRU waste in Idaho, the AMWTP has received and treated waste from 15 other DOE sites. In a 2008 Record of Decision, DOE directed up to 8,764 cubic meters of waste from other sites to be sent to AMWTP for treatment. All work has been performed in accordance with terms contained in the 1995 Idaho Settlement Agreement that governs cleanup work at the Idaho National Laboratory site.
In December 2018, DOE made the decision to end operations at AMWTP when all waste stored in Idaho has been treated. Once this occurs the facility will be decommissioned and dismantled under terms contained in the Resource Conservation And Recovery Act.