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An aerial view of the Salt Waste Processing Facility.
An aerial view of the Salt Waste Processing Facility.

AIKEN, S.C. EM and prime contractor Parsons Corporation are poised to begin transferring radioactive material to the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF) for processing at a rate eight times faster than recent waste treatment operations at the Savannah River Site (SRS).

This major milestone comes 18 years after EM and Parsons embarked on a mission to revolutionize the treatment of radioactive waste contained in the underground liquid waste storage tanks at SRS.

In August, DOE approved Critical Decision 4 and Authorization to Operate for SWPF, authorizing “hot,” or radioactive operations, to begin at SWPF, the final major piece of the liquid waste treatment system to be completed at SRS.

“The startup of SWPF is a testament to the commitment and dedication of the Parsons workforce over the last 12 years of construction and testing,” said Frank Sheppard, senior vice president and SWPF project manager for Parsons. “The SWPF team has achieved this major milestone while focusing on safety and ensuring the long-term operational success of this first-of-a-kind facility.”

The Salt Waste Processing Facility during construction.
The Salt Waste Processing Facility during construction.
An employee works on the contactor operating deck within the Salt Waste Processing Facility.
An employee works on the contactor operating deck within the Salt Waste Processing Facility.
An employee works on the CSSX tank cell operating deck at the Salt Waste Processing Facility.
An employee works on the CSSX tank cell operating deck at the Salt Waste Processing Facility.
An employee checks filter operations in the laboratory vent room at the Salt Waste Processing Facility.
An employee checks filter operations in the laboratory vent room at the Salt Waste Processing Facility.
Employees assess the Cold Chemicals Area at the Salt Waste Processing Facility.
Employees assess the Cold Chemicals Area at the Salt Waste Processing Facility.

With a goal to process 31 million gallons of radioactive salt waste stored in the tanks at SRS, EM selected Parsons to design, build, and commission SWPF, and operate the facility for one year. Parsons finished building SWPF in April 2016, eight months ahead of schedule and more than $65 million under the target cost of the contract for construction activities.

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 43 remaining high-level waste tanks.

A precursor to SWPF, the Actinide Removal Process (ARP) and Modular Caustic Side Solvent Extraction Unit (MCU) demonstration advanced radioactive salt waste processing across the EM complex by improving the technology to be used in the larger-scale SWPF. ARP/MCU separated radioactive components from nonradioactive salt solution using a chemical separation process.

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