PHOENIX – Federal and contractor leadership serving on a panel at the 2022 Waste Management Symposia last week discussed the progress of liquid waste treatment facilities at three EM sites as they work to meet cleanup commitments.
James Folk, assistant manager for waste disposition at the Savannah River Site (SRS), said the Salt Waste Processing Facility processed 2 million gallons of tank waste during its first year of operation at the site. He said he looks forward to the liquid waste treatment plant increasing production as it addresses the balance of 34 million gallons of waste generated by nuclear materials production operations at SRS over many decades of the Cold War.
The first-of-a-kind waste treatment facility launched operations in 2020, more than five months ahead of schedule and $53 million under budget. That development represented a leap forward in DOE’s ability to tackle tank waste. The facility is the final piece of the liquid waste program at SRS and will allow for completion of the site’s liquid waste mission.
Dave Olson, president and program manager for new SRS liquid waste contractor Savannah River Mission Completion, said his company is integrating existing workforces and optimizing processes to reach a project end state. He said this is the first time the entire liquid waste system is being run by one company.
Joel Case, manager of the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU) and Calcine Disposition Project at the DOE Idaho National Laboratory Site, discussed the status of the IWTU, which had been processing simulant waste during a confirmatory run before being shut down recently for an equipment inspection.
Once testing is completed, IWTU will convert about 900,000 gallons of radioactive liquid waste into a granular solid. Following the completion of waste treatment, the site’s tank farm will be closed. The waste was created during cleanout and decontamination activities following past spent-nuclear-fuel reprocessing operations.
Case also discussed EM’s headway in the Calcine Disposition Project, which will transfer 220 cubic meters of granulated high-level radioactive waste from the first calcine storage bin built onsite to another bin set. The bin set emptied of calcine will then be closed under federal regulations. Calcine is a dried byproduct of the legacy spent-nuclear-fuel reprocessing mission at the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center. Crews have fabricated a retrieval system and bin set mock-up, and they continue developing retrieval tools.
Mat Irwin, deputy assistant manager for the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) at the Hanford Site, said the site’s Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) Program has begun treating tank waste this year.
The DFLAW Program is an assembly of several highly interdependent projects and infrastructure that will operate together to vitrify, or immobilize in glass, and safely dispose of millions of gallons of low-activity tank waste.
A cornerstone of the DFLAW Program, the Tank-Side Cesium Removal System began operations earlier this year to remove radioactive cesium and solids from tank waste. The treated waste will be fed directly to the nearby WTP for vitrification when the plant comes online next year.
Irwin said he looks forward to filling the first canister with simulant glass in 2022.
The Hanford Site is home to approximately 56 million gallons of radioactive tank waste stored in 177 underground tanks, representing one of DOE’s largest environmental risks and most complex cleanup challenges. The legacy tank waste is a result of nearly five decades of plutonium production that supported the nation’s defense program during World War II and the Cold War.
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