Office of Environmental Management

Site Preparation Underway for Second Mega-Volume Saltstone Disposal Unit at SRS

November 14, 2017

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EM approved the start of site preparation for the next mega-volume Saltstone Disposal Unit (SDU) at Savannah River Site, marked in blue. SDU 6 is at left.
EM approved the start of site preparation for the next mega-volume Saltstone Disposal Unit (SDU) at Savannah River Site, marked in blue. SDU 6 is at left.

AIKEN, S.C. – Workers have begun preparing for the second 32.8-million-gallon saltstone disposal unit at the Savannah River Site (SRS). 

   EM approved 13 months of construction work to ready the site for the Saltstone Disposal Unit 7 (SDU 7).  

   DOE-Savannah River Site Manager Jack Craig said the disposal units are critical to remediating SRS waste tanks.

   “Construction on SDU 7 is an important step toward readying the liquid waste facilities for the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF) startup, and furthering progress on closing the high-level waste tanks at SRS,” said Craig.

   SRS liquid waste contractor Savannah River Remediation (SRR) will relocate a trailer complex; re-route stormwater drainage, electrical utilities, and communication systems; excavate nearly 170,000 cubic yards of dirt; and install the structural base slab.

   SRR began construction late last month by removing trailer decking. Workers are scheduled to relocate six construction trailers this month. They removed trees within the SDU 7 footprint.

   SRR President and Project Manager Tom Foster noted that approval to begin constructing SDU 7 came three months after SRR finished building SDU 6, 16 months ahead of schedule and $25 million under budget.

   “Completing Saltstone Disposal Unit 6 provided the liquid waste team a template to safely complete construction on the next era of mega-vaults,” Foster said. “This culture of disciplined operations will continue as we begin construction on the footprint of Saltstone Disposal Unit 7.”

   It’s the second SDU to be constructed using an innovative design mirroring disposal units for commercial water applications.

   SRS SDUs can accommodate SWPF’s large stream of decontaminated salt solution. SWPF is scheduled to begin operating in December 2018.

   The larger design brings cost savings because it requires less infrastructure and materials to design and build. SRS will need only seven of the larger units to meet mission needs — equivalent to 80 small SDUs, each holding roughly 3 million gallons. 

   SWPF is key to the SRS liquid waste program and will process the majority of the site’s salt waste inventory. Removing salt waste, which fills over 90 percent of tank space in the SRS tank farms, is a major step toward emptying and closing the site’s remaining 43 high-level waste tanks.

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