As EM continues its historic cleanup across the DOE complex, its liquid waste work is taking a higher profile.
A significant portion of EM’s $7.64 billion fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget request would go to EM’s critical liquid waste cleanup mission. The work is being performed at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, the Office of River Protection at the Hanford Site in Washington state, and the Idaho National Laboratory Site.
The FY 2023 budget request for liquid waste operations at those sites includes storage and processing of 90 million gallons of radioactive liquid waste, operations of major facilities for processing and disposition, and other forms of treatment.
The EM liquid waste program goal is to continue cleanup progress in a cost-effective manner that is science-based, applies innovative solutions, engages stakeholders and provides value to taxpayers.
The budget request includes $1.72 billion for the Savannah River Site (SRS) liquid waste mission. That funding would support the:
- Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF), which vitrifies, or immobilizes in glass, the highly radioactive portion of the liquid waste. More than 4,300 canisters have been filled with the vitrified waste at DWPF since it began operating.
- Glass Waste Storage Building, which stores the canisters of vitrified waste from the DWPF.
- Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF), which is designed to significantly increase the site’s ability to empty and close radioactive waste tanks. The facility processes most of the salt waste in tank storage. SWPF forwards the higher-activity waste to DWPF for vitrification and sends the decontaminated salt solution (DSS) to the Saltstone Production Facility to be turned into grout for permanent onsite disposal.
- Saltstone Production Facility (SPF), which processes the DSS into saltstone grout by mixing the liquid feed with cementitious materials. The grout is pumped from the SPF into the Saltstone Disposal Units, where the saltstone grout solidifies into a nonhazardous, solid low-level waste form.
About 34 million gallons of radioactive liquid waste remains at SRS, stored in 43 underground tanks. Eight of the total 51 tanks built during nuclear materials production have been grouted and closed, the last of which was in 2016.
The budget request includes $1.6 billion for the Office of River Protection. That funding would support the:
- Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, which will blend waste from the site’s tank farms with molten glass and place it in stainless steel canisters for long-term storage. EM is treating tank waste for the first time on a large scale at Hanford. Work continues with the state of Washington on a path forward for treating all Hanford tank waste in a safe, effective manner and at a practical cost.
The budget request includes $391 million for the Idaho National Laboratory Site. That funding would support the:
- Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU), which uses a technology that converts the liquid waste to a granular solid that is transferred to stainless steel canisters that are then stored in concrete vaults. During a confirmatory run that began in late December 2021, IWTU has successfully processed 33,000 gallons of simulated radioactive liquid waste. IWTU facility testing is ongoing to evaluate readiness and to prepare for the facility to process radioactive sodium bearing waste.
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