Office of Environmental Management

Idaho Site Preps for Calcine Retrieval Project

April 27, 2017

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Under the retrieval approach, calcine from bin set 1 (listed here as CSSF 1) will be transferred to bin set 6 (CSSF 6). Bin set 1 would then be closed.

Under the retrieval approach, calcine from bin set 1 (listed here as CSSF 1) will be transferred to bin set 6 (CSSF 6). Bin set 1 would then be closed.

Liquid high-level radioactive waste was converted to a granular solid called calcine, which is currently stored in six bin sets.

Liquid high-level radioactive waste was converted to a granular solid called calcine, which is currently stored in six bin sets.

IDAHO FALLS, IdahoEM’s Idaho Site is preparing to retrieve and transfer radioactive waste as part of a larger project needed to meet a milestone in a legal agreement with the state. 

   In an estimated $50 million project, EM is set to design a system to retrieve an estimated 220 cubic meters of radioactive waste from an older storage bin and transfer it to a newer one with storage capacity. Eventually, workers will close the emptied bin under numerous regulatory authorities.

   “This project has many challenges from both an engineering design as well as a regulatory standpoint,” said Fluor Idaho Project Manager Howard Forsythe. “Demonstrating that we can design and build a system to retrieve this waste is the first step.” 

   The waste was generated from spent nuclear fuel reprocessing conducted decades ago. In total, 4,400 cubic meters of the waste, commonly referred to as “calcine,” is being stored in six bins sets in concrete vaults at the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center. The retrieval system being designed will be used to retrieve the calcine from bin set 1 and transfer it to bin set 6. 

   “We remain focused on meeting our regulatory commitments, and we’ve identified two things we can do now to make progress,” DOE Idaho Calcine Disposition Project Manager Mark Shaw said. “These activities better prepare the project to meet the 1995 Idaho Settlement Agreement requirement that the calcine be ready for disposal outside the state by Dec. 31, 2035.”

   The project allows EM to empty and close the oldest of the bin sets. That process will provide the regulatory framework for closing the remaining bin sets after the calcine is removed.

   EM plans to complete the retrieval design by fiscal year 2018; fabricate and construct the system the following year; transfer the calcine in fiscal year 2020; and deactivate and demolish the transfer system in 2021. EM could close the emptied bin in fiscal year 2022.

   “I have some talented, problem-solving engineers on my staff who are excited to tackle this project,” Forsythe said. “I’m confident that my team has the experience and skills needed to deliver.”