A diagram showing the Tank Closure Cesium Removal process at the Savannah River Site.
A diagram showing the Tank Closure Cesium Removal process at the Savannah River Site.

AIKEN, S.C. EM has resumed processing high-level waste (HLW) inside the Tank Closure Cesium Removal (TCCR) module at the Savannah River Site (SRS) following an extended maintenance outage.

The innovative cesium-removal technology finished processing a batch of radioactive liquid waste last month, moving the TCCR feed tank, Tank 10, closer to final closure. It was the third batch of salt waste processed at SRS since the site began using TCCR in early 2019.

EM and liquid waste contractor Savannah River Remediation (SRR) suspended TCCR in the summer last year when the main transfer pump used to prepare salt waste batches inside Tank 10 reached its end life.

Crews removed that pump from the tank and installed a replacement in March 2020, just before SRS entered essential mission-critical operations status due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Preparations for TCCR’s third batch resumed at the end of May.

TCCR Senior Project Manager Pen Mayson said that TCCR contributes significantly to the liquid-waste treatment process.

“Including the 89,430 gallons completed in the third batch, we have now processed and removed cesium from nearly 300,000 gallons of Tank 10 material, bringing the tank a step closer to final closure,” Mayson said.

TCCR consists of a modular ion exchange process with an engineered resin located adjacent to Tank 10, for the removal of radioactive cesium from salt waste.

Building on the research and development of EM’s Savannah River National Laboratory, the experience of commercial nuclear plant decontamination, and the Fukushima Daiichi accident cleanup, TCCR accelerates waste retrieval and tank closure efforts, and provides a supplemental treatment capability.

The majority of the salt waste inside the tanks at SRS will be processed through the Salt Waste Processing Facility that is preparing to begin operations. TCCR will supplement that processing to help accelerate EM’s liquid waste mission. Lessons learned have been shared with EM’s Hanford Site, which is implementing similar technology in support of providing tank waste feed for the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste approach for low-activity tank waste treatment.

SRR President and Project Manager Phil Breidenbach said TCCR is an innovation that has moved salt waste processing into the 21st century, combining first-of-a-kind technology with commercial nuclear cleanup practices and disciplined nuclear operations.

“These repairs will enable TCCR to be an active part of our ongoing activities to disposition liquid waste and operationally close tanks at SRS,” Breidenbach said.