AIKEN, S.C. – The start of operations of the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF) at the Savannah River Site (SRS) represents a leap forward in DOE’s ability to tackle tank waste, one of the most challenging environmental risks, Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar said during a Sept. 24 ceremony marking the facility coming online.
“SWPF is the final piece to what is an impressive and highly successful liquid waste program here,” Dabbar, the keynote speaker at the event, said of the facility, which is an EM 2020 priority. “Bringing it online is a tremendous victory, not only for the site, but for the entire cleanup mission.”
Also attending the event were Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, EM Senior Advisor William "Ike" White, and representatives from the offices of Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott of South Carolina.
Last month, DOE approved Critical Decision 4 (CD-4) for SWPF, clearing the way for “hot” or radioactive operations to begin at the facility. The multi-billion-dollar facility is starting regular operations ahead of schedule and under budget.
SWPF will process the majority of the site’s salt waste inventory by separating highly radioactive constituents for treatment via vitrification, from the predominately low-radioactive, large-volume salts that will be treated for disposal onsite. 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 43 remaining high-level waste tanks.
“This is a big day for us at the site, for the state of South Carolina, for the Department of Energy and, I believe, for the nation, as we recognize completion of SWPF, which will usher in a new era in the processing of radioactive material,” said Mike Budney, manager for the Savannah River Operations Office.
Parsons, which designed and built the first-of-a-kind facility, will operate it for one year. EM and Parsons are completing the remaining commissioning activities necessary to introduce radiological material into the facility.
“We’re celebrating a historic milestone in the transition to fill operations of the Salt Waste Processing Facility,” Parsons CEO and President Chuck Harrington said.
The first transfer of waste to SWPF is currently scheduled for the first week of October.