Excess Materials and Radioactive Waste Management

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Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Ventilation Groundbreaking

As the Office of Environmental Management (EM) fulfills its mission, waste and materials disposition plays a vital role in the cleanup of radioactive waste and the environmental legacy of nuclear weapons production and nuclear energy research.   

Disposal of waste frequently falls on the critical path of cleanup projects. Significant planning resources are spent to identify alternatives and find a path that is cost-effective. In many instances, waste disposition, (processing, treatment and disposal) is part of cleanup agreements and is of interest to stakeholders and requires the oversight of regulators.

Transportation and Disposition of Bulk Uranium Oxide from DOE’s Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride Conversion Facilities – Depleted uranium hexafluoride (DUF6) is the by-product of uranium enrichment for defense and commercial needs using gaseous diffusion technology that began as part of weapons development during World War II and was carried out at three locations: the Paducah Site in Kentucky, the Portsmouth Site in Ohio, and the East Tennessee Technology Park in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  In 2004, DOE issued Final Environmental Impact Statements on the management and disposition of approximately 760,000 metric tons of DUF6 in about 63,000 cylinders.  As a result of records-of-decision following a thorough NEPA review, DOE now operates two facilities (one at its Portsmouth site and one at its Paducah site) which will convert up DUF6 into a more stable oxide form for long-term management and hydrofluoric acid (which will be sold commercially). When the Record of Decision was issued, DOE deferred a decision on the transportation and disposition of the DUF6 conversion product.  DOE is preparing a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to analyze potential impacts of transportation of uranium oxide to one or more of three low-level radioactive waste disposal facilities located in Nevada, Texas, and Utah.

Long-Term Management and Storage of Elemental Mercury  - In addition to banning the export of elemental mercury from the United States as of January 1, 2013, the Mercury Export Ban Act of 2008 (MEBA) (Public Law No. 110-414) requires the Department of Energy (DOE) to establish a facility for the long-term management and storage of elemental mercury (generated with the U.S.).  DOE used the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process to evaluate options considered in a January 2011 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and a September 2013 Supplemental EIS.

Waste Disposition News

Mock-up Project Reduces Risk in Salt Waste Processing Facility Integration Work
October 30, 2018
EM and its liquid waste contractor at SRS are putting practice into action before tackling significant projects.
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Buried Waste Retrieval Resumes at Idaho Site
September 11, 2018
EM and cleanup contractor Fluor Idaho recently resumed exhuming buried Cold War waste at the ARP VIII facility at DOE’s INL Site.
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West Valley Marks Accomplishment in Legacy Waste Disposition
September 11, 2018
EM and its contractor at the WVDP Site have safely completed the disposition of more than 180,000 cubic feet of legacy waste.
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Oak Ridge’s Transuranic Waste Processing Center Receives Top DOE Safety Award
September 4, 2018
Employees at Oak Ridge’s TWPC received the DOE Voluntary Protection Program’s (VPP) distinguished Superior Star Award on Aug. 30.
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Contractor Collaborates With College on WTP Training Lab
August 7, 2018
Chemists are developing processes for analyzing Hanford tank waste before it’s turned into glass inside the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant.
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WIPP Employee Inducted Into Mine Rescue Hall of Fame
July 31, 2018
Richard “Stik” West of EM’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) has been inducted into the Metal and Nonmetal National Mine Rescue Hall of Fame.
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Researchers Study Durability of Glass Waste, Supporting EM Cleanup
July 31, 2018
Researchers at PNNL & Washington State University are seeking insight into long-term behavior of glassified nuclear waste to ensure its durability.
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From EM to International Research: Intern to Study Glass Science in Prague
July 31, 2018
Fascinated by chemistry, Jose Marcial started a summer internship as a high school senior with PNNL and EM’s Office of River Protection (ORP) in 2009.
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Hanford Waste Treatment Plant Support Buildings Move Into Commissioning Phase
July 24, 2018
Hanford’s WTP is bringing more major utility systems online as the facility continues the transition from construction to startup and commissioning.
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Idaho Site Crews Find New Uses for Former Spent Nuclear Fuel Hot Cells
July 17, 2018
EM and its cleanup contractor at DOE’s Idaho Site have repurposed former spent nuclear fuel hot cells to characterize and segregate waste.
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Waste Volume Related Databases

Below is a collection of databases and reports that provide information related to waste disposition. While most of these are directly related to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) waste management activities, some links include information from the commercial sector. 

The Central Internet Database (CID)  site provides information about the implementation of the December 12, 1998 Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Settlement Agreement between DOE and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC et. al. v. Richardson, No.97-936(SS)(AK)), which resulted in the development of the CID. The CID integrates waste management and cleanup data from multiple DOE data sources into a single database accessible through CID reports. CID information includes nationwide DOE data for Radioactive Waste, Contaminated Media, Spent Nuclear Fuel, and Facilities. 

For DOE/EM waste and material stream data: Waste Information Management System (WIMS) provided by Florida International University  - WIMS is developed to provide DOE Headquarters and site waste managers with the tools necessary to easily visualize, understand, and manage the vast volumes, categories, and problems of forecasted waste streams. 

For commercial Low-Level Radioactive Waste disposal information, Manifest Information Management System (MIMS)  - The Manifest Information Management System (MIMS) is a database used to monitor the management of commercial low-level radioactive waste (LLW) in the U.S.  MIMS was developed in 1986 by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in response to provisions in 42 U.S.C. 2021g(a). 

Brokers and processors data base sponsored by the Southeast Compact Commission  - This directory is intended for use by compacts, states, federal agencies and others to provide information to generators seeking to treat, process and otherwise manage their waste in preparation for ultimate disposal.

International waste management data from the International Atomic Energy Agency Net-Enabled Waste Management Data Base (NEWMDB) - The NEWMDB contains information on national radioactive waste management programmes, radioactive waste inventories, radioactive waste disposal, relevant laws and regulations, waste management policies, and plans and activities.