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In past years, EM used in situ decommissioning for the U Canyon at the Hanford Site; two facilities at the Idaho National Laboratory Site; and the P and R reactors and Heavy Water Components Test Reactor, pictured here, at the Savannah River Site.
In past years, EM used in situ decommissioning for the U Canyon at the Hanford Site; two facilities at the Idaho National Laboratory Site; and the P and R reactors and Heavy Water Components Test Reactor, pictured here, at the Savannah River Site.

EM joined other government organizations and stakeholders from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada to discuss different types of in situ decommissioning (ISD) and “ISD-like” remediation and decommissioning strategies, and to better define how these approaches relate to one another, to relevant regulations, and to international frameworks.

The virtual workshop included more than 40 representatives from DOE and:

  • Policy organizations, including U.K. Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, and Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.;
  • Federal regulators, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.K. Environment Agency, and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission; and
  • State and local regulators, including the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Compliance.

“The workshop reinforces the close collaborative relationship with the U.K. and Canada and our commitment to the longstanding alliance among our countries in the field of environmental management,” said Betsy Forinash, director of EM’s Office of Infrastructure Management and Disposition Policy.

Representative from the three countries met to develop a shared understanding of what ISD means in different contexts and how it has been, and is proposed to be, safely implemented.

The term ISD has historically been equated with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) term “entombment,” which in IAEA’s safety requirements and guides is considered an approach to decommissioning that is to be used only in “exceptional circumstances.”

However, the term ISD is used colloquially by different countries to describe a range of acceptable and protective decommissioning end states.

Workshop participants also shared details about previous and potential ISD projects to establish a better appreciation of how these projects are developed to ensure the final decommissioning end state is safe, both now and in the future.

“The shared experience across our programs shows that ISD can be both practical and protective and is a legitimate option to be considered for legacy sites and facilities. Building understanding in open dialogue with stakeholders and regulators is key to successful implementation,” Forinash said.

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