The Office of Environmental Management (EM) tank waste program consists of safely storing of 90 million gallons of radioactive liquid waste at the Savannah River Site (SRS), Idaho National laboratory (INL) and the Office of River Protection (ORP) at Hanford, Washington. Of the approximately 90 million gallons, 36 million gallons (250 x 106 Ci ) is stored at SRS, approximately 56 million gallons (109 x 106 Ci) is located at ORP while 900,000 gallons of liquid sodium bearing waste (300,000 Ci) is at INL. In addition, EM operates major nuclear facilities to process and dispose of the waste as well as emptying, cleaning and closing the waste tanks. The SRS and ORP waste streams will be separated a highly radioactive fraction and a low activity faction. The high activity portion will be vitrified while the low activity portion will be either vitrified or grouted.
As liquid waste is processed, the tanks are operationally closed through a process that involves: bulk waste removal, heel removal, cooling coil flushing/annulus cleaning, isolation & residual sampling and grouting. To date, eight SRS waste tanks have been operationally closed and grouted.
The EM tank waste program’s goal is to continue cleanup progress in a cost-effective manner that is risk informed, engages stakeholders, applies innovative solutions and provides value to the American taxpayer.
Current EM nuclear processing facilities include:
Savannah River Site
- Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF) – vitrifies the highly radioactive portion of the liquid waste
- Glass Waste Storage Building (GWSB) – stores the glass canisters from the DWPF
- Actinide Removal Process (ARP)/Modular Caustic Side Solvent Extraction Unit (MCU) – separates the highly radioactive components, principally cesium and strontium from the waste stream with the remaining low activity stream sent to the Saltstone Disposal Facility (SDF)
- Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF) –uses the same technology as the ARP/MCU but has a much higher throughput
- Saltstone Disposal Facility (SDF) – manages the low level effluent stream from the ARP/MCU or the SWPF for grouting and disposal on site at a Saltstone Disposal Unit (SDU)
Office of River Protection
- Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) (under contraction) – designed to vitrify both the high and low activity portions of the liquid tank waste with the current plan to initiate operations with low activity waste vitrification, Direct Feed Low Activity Waste (DFLAW)
Idaho National Laboratory (INL)
- Integrated Waste Treatment Unity (IWTU) – designed to treat sodium bearing high level radioactive waste using Fluidized Bed Steam Reforming (FBSR) that decomposes waste using super-heated steam to produce a sodium-alumino-silicate (NAS) mineralized waste form that can be packaged for disposal