Hands-on practice of quality assurance

Laurence H. Brush and Nathalie A. Wall

Sandia National Laboratories

4100 National Parks Highway - Carlsbad, NM 88220 - USA


The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), now open for the permanent repository of defense-generated transuranic (TRU) waste is the first certified deep geological nuclear repository in the world. Prior to the repository certification, data were collected on various aspects of the site (the hydrology of the system, its chemistry, rock mechanics, etc) and performance assessment (PA) modeling was run based on these data. This PA successfully demonstrated that the repository would show essentially no release of radioactivity from undisturbed conditions for 10 000 years and very small release in the event of the inadvertent human intrusion.

As a WIPP science advisor, Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) has played a major role in the repository certification, in particular regarding the data collection and analysis, the PA and the regulatory interpretation. To ensure the success of the nuclear repository program, SNL had to maintain an efficient and defensible technical program. As a result, SNL has developed an increasingly mature quality assurance (QA) program, based on the five essential characteristics of traceability, transparency, reviews, reproducibility and retrievability (referred to as T2R3). Specific examples of the QA requirements applied to the WIPP technical work will be presented.

Sandia National Laboratories is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin Company, for the United States Department of Energy under Contract DE-AC04-94AL8500.