Office of Environmental Management

Idaho Site Crews Find New Uses for Former Spent Nuclear Fuel Hot Cells

July 17, 2018

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A view of radioactively contaminated concrete debris found inside one of 27 containers being processed at the former spent nuclear fuel hot cells at the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center.
A view of radioactively contaminated concrete debris found inside one of 27 containers being processed at the former spent nuclear fuel hot cells at the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center.

IDAHO FALLS, IdahoEM and its cleanup contractor at DOE’s Idaho Site have repurposed former spent nuclear fuel hot cells to characterize and segregate waste, eliminating the need to construct new buildings or purchase equipment.

   Fluor Idaho crews identified 27 containers with waste requiring shielding and remote-handling equipment as they retrieved waste at the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project (AMWTP). They transferred those containers to the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center (INTEC) hot cells for processing. The hot cells had been used for spent nuclear fuel reprocessing until 1992. 

   “Using our existing hot cells with proven remote handled waste characterization, treatment, and repackaging capabilities is a tremendous benefit to the Department versus setting up a new process at the AMWTP and dealing with the potential unknowns of this legacy waste,” Fluor Idaho Operations Manager Steve Poling said. 

   To date, 16 of the containers — ranging in size from 55- and 85-gallon drums to large boxes containing internal drums — have been processed. Crews move the separated remote-handled waste to temporary storage at INTEC and return the contact handled waste, which has lower radioactivity than the remote handled waste, to AMWTP for processing, certification, and eventual shipment to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

   Using the INTEC hot cells supports the Department’s commitment to the state of Idaho to ship 65,000 cubic meters of above-ground waste at the AMWTP to WIPP and other off-site disposal facilities. 

 

 

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