IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – Crews at the DOE Idaho National Laboratory Site are operating the final test run of the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU), running waste simulant through the facility to ensure the plant’s performance and personnel proficiency for upcoming radiological operations. Processing 100 waste containers through the IWTU is an EM priority for 2022.
For the remainder of the 50-day confirmatory run, crews with EM contractor Idaho Environmental Coalition (IEC) will assess the performance of new ceramic filters and other modifications while operating the facility under simulated radiological conditions. During the run, independent contractor and federal assessment teams will evaluate the performance of the operating crews and facility to prepare for radioactive waste processing.
Prior to a temporary shutdown in January due to nitrogen shipping delays, the IWTU had operated for eight continuous days and converted about 19,000 gallons of simulant into a granular solid. Since then, IEC crews strengthened its agreement with its subcontractor to provide steady shipments of nitrogen that allowed crews to restart the plant and resume simulant treatment. Nitrogen is required during IWTU operations, and the facility must receive steady shipments as often as daily during the confirmatory run.
The plant was constructed to treat approximately 900,000 gallons of sodium-bearing liquid waste from a nearby tank farm. The liquid waste was created during cleanout and decontamination activities following past spent nuclear fuel reprocessing operations.
IWTU uses steam-reforming technology to convert the liquid waste to a granular solid which is transferred to stainless-steel canisters and then stored in concrete vaults. Following the completion of waste treatment, the tank farm will be closed.
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