Historically, removing hazardous waste from gloveboxes involves the use of bags as the primary containment method. This method can prove tedious, repetitive, and time-consuming to ensure the process follows all safeguards to contain the waste and mitigate any breach of containment. Additional layers of bags, yards of tape, and multiple filters are added to the waste stream to transfer the hazardous waste from the glovebox safely into the final drum package prior to shipment and disposal.
The process to cut, tie, and tape each bag for disposal involves manual efforts by multiple operators. Following Administrative Safety Controls, good operators are able to safely perform this task; but, since the bag is the only confinement layer, incidents can occur. Operators, in some cases, are also near this waste which may increase the risk of radiation exposure. Once the waste is transferred out through these bags, it is nearly impossible to remove packaged waste that may contain higher dosage levels, thus increasing drum disposal costs incurred by the facility. Exceeding the allowable radiation levels and drums not fully filled both contribute significantly to excess disposal costs.
Central Research Laboratories (CRL), based in Red Wing, Minnesota, has developed the Waste Drum Transfer System (WDTS) based upon the proven technology and containment of the Rapid Transfer Port (RTP) as an alternate, more efficient method of waste transfer. This solution consists of an RTP Alpha port mounted inside a glovebox and Beta assembly unit composed of a drum liner fitted inside a standard 55-gallon drum. The use of the Beta drum liner bypasses the typical use of bags, sleeves, or tape to support leak-tight containment. The process to connect and disconnect a drum from the glovebox is achieved by the self-docking and rotating system controls of the RTP Alpha, all done with only one operator standing in an upright ergonomic position. This system also allows for greater flexibility in available Beta connection options, expanding the overall functionality of the system. This system can be disconnected and reconnected multiple times to better reach maximum volume containment. Radiation levels inside each drum can be monitored and adjusted more efficiently by operators utilizing the reconnect option. This will minimize drum disposal costs and reduce the overall volume of waste output by more efficiently filling the drums. Minimal As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) levels are also achievable with this system.
Highly efficient packaging and disposal of hazardous waste can be accomplished in a cost-effective manner utilizing the proven technology of this RTP system. Maximized operator productivity and increased safety, as well as minimized radiation dose exposure, are all attainable through the system’s engineered controls.