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A crane lowers one of the five new vessels for a new modernized zeolite treatment system at Building 3608 in Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s central campus area. It replaces an aging system in Building 3544.
A crane lowers one of the five new vessels for a new modernized zeolite treatment system at Building 3608 in Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s central campus area. It replaces an aging system in Building 3544.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.EM workers are making progress upgrading aging radiological wastewater treatment infrastructure essential to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) operations.

They are installing a new zeolite treatment system, which is designed to remove cesium and strontium from wastewater.

Installation of that system is the latest modernization effort funded by a $17 million EM investment over the past two years to extend the life of the Liquid and Gaseous Waste Operations infrastructure. Crews have replaced deteriorated piping, antiquated equipment, and failing electrical systems.

The infrastructure consists of numerous interconnected facilities that support crucial waste treatment activities for EM and DOE’s Office of Science. Due to its age and deteriorated condition, Building 3544 presented one of the largest risks to the Liquid and Gaseous Waste Operations. For more than four decades the building had served as a radiological wastewater treatment facility, housing the previous zeolite treatment system.

EM investigated several alternatives before choosing to install a modernized zeolite treatment system at Building 3608, which formerly served as a non-radiological wastewater treatment facility.

“Moving the treatment system to a new facility and modernizing the equipment allows us to continue effectively treating wastewater in a safe, cost-effective manner,” said Nathan Felosi, EM ORNL portfolio federal project director. “EM’s work to upgrade essential infrastructure and address excess contaminated facilities is protecting and enabling ORNL’s current and future research missions.”

Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management cleanup contractor UCOR is installing the new treatment system. It includes five vessels — two dual media filters and three zeolite columns — and dewatering equipment. The vessels were assembled and tested by the manufacturer prior to being transported to the facility.

UCOR is scheduled to conduct startup testing on the new treatment system this spring, after new equipment is operational. Following testing, Building 3544 will go into standby status for up to a year, serving as a backup for the new treatment system at Building 3608.

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