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An aerial view of the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF), which has been approved for operations at the Savannah River Site. The SWPF is the last major piece of the liquid waste treatment system to be completed at Savannah River.
An aerial view of the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF), which has been approved for operations at the Savannah River Site. The SWPF is the last major piece of the liquid waste treatment system to be completed at Savannah River.

AIKEN, S.C. – Yesterday, the Department of Energy (DOE) approved Critical Decision-4 (CD-4) and Authorization To Operate for the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF) at Savannah River Site (SRS), authorizing “hot” or radioactive operations to begin at the facility. CD-4 signals project completion and the transition from project phase to operations.

“This is a considerable achievement for EM's (Environmental Management) cleanup program and will drive significant progress in treating the tank waste at SRS in the next decade,” said Senior Advisor for EM to the Under Secretary for Science William “Ike” White.

The SWPF is the last major piece of the liquid waste system at SRS and will process the majority of the Site’s salt waste inventory by separating the highly radioactive waste—mostly cesium, strontium, actinides, and waste slurry—from the less radioactive salt solution. After the initial separation process is completed, the concentrated high-activity waste will be sent to the nearby Defense Waste Processing Facility. The decontaminated salt solution will be mixed with cement-like grout at the nearby Saltstone Facility for disposal on site. Removing salt waste, which fills over 90 percent of tank space in the SRS tank farms, is a major step toward emptying and closing the Site’s remaining 43 high-level waste tanks.

“SWPF provides the final piece enabling completion of tank closure activities at SRS,” said Manager of DOE’s Savannah River Operations Office Mike Budney.

The approval comes five months ahead of the current baseline CD-4 completion date of January 31, 2021. Parsons Corporation, who designed and built the first-of-a-kind facility, will operate it for one year.

The SWPF remains on track to start normal operations later this year following completion of hot commissioning. By 2030, it is expected that nearly all of the salt waste inventory at SRS will be processed.

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