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Workers excavated an area at the Savannah River Site to reveal existing transfer lines to be modified for placing the new Salt Waste Processing Facility into operations.
Workers excavated an area at the Savannah River Site to reveal existing transfer lines to be modified for placing the new Salt Waste Processing Facility into operations.

AIKEN, S.C. EM has successfully integrated the liquid waste treatment system with the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF) at the Savannah River Site (SRS) after 10 years of complex preparatory work.

EM and liquid waste contractor Savannah River Remediation (SRR) made many improvements to prepare SRS liquid waste facilities to handle the output from SWPF and ensure that facility could be fed large quantities of salt waste from the site’s 43 remaining high-level waste tanks.

SRR President and Project Manager Phil Breidenbach said SRR’s dedication to the liquid waste cleanup mission is helping make EM history.

“The work that led to full integration with the Salt Waste Processing Facility is truly historic,” Breidenbach said. “We demonstrated technology, modified infrastructure that is over 65 years old, and modified procedures and programs to ready the liquid waste facilities. The talented team of SRR professionals all share the same goal — to eliminate the greatest risk in the state of South Carolina. Together as a team, we are making the community and environment safer.”

Workers performed research, planning, documentation, and other work to ready 1-million-gallon salt batches for transfer to SWPF. They added transfer lines, excavated a large area to reveal piping for modifications, installed large pumps, and revised documents governing operational procedures.

SWPF integration work was completed without injuries resulting in missed workdays. Safety was the top priority throughout the integration process, as crews trained with mock-ups, deployed remote equipment, and implemented other controls to reduce the risk of radiological and industrial hazards.

SWPF is key to accelerating the disposition of salt waste, which makes up approximately 90 percent of the site’s tank waste volume. Workers previously processed salt waste at the site’s interim salt waste processing facilities, known as the Actinide Removal Process/Modular Caustic Side Solvent Extraction Unit. That operation successfully demonstrated the technology being used in the larger-scale SWPF.

The first transfer of 4,000 gallons of salt waste through roughly 4,000 linear feet of stainless-steel piping from the site’s Tank 49 to SWPF is pending. The salt waste will be processed inside SWPF into two streams: a high-activity radionuclide stream for transfer to the Defense Waste Processing Facility, and a decontaminated salt solution to be sent to the Saltstone Production Facility.

Salt batches are prepared in blend tanks to meet waste acceptance criteria at SWPF, due to each waste tank containing a unique blend of radioactive liquid waste and chemicals. Workers recently modified Tank 41 to become a salt waste blend tank in support of SWPF operations. This work was accomplished by dissolving salt cake in the tank for transfer and installing a submersible blend pump. An additional blend tank, Tank 42, is scheduled to be operational in May 2021.

After crews completed modifications to connect the liquid waste facilities to SWPF, employees with SRR and SWPF contractor Parsons practiced future operations through simulated salt waste transfers between the liquid waste facilities and SWPF. The exercises were an opportunity for the team members to follow new and revised procedures.