WEST VALLEY, N.Y. – EM’s West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP) is the nation’s first and only commercial nuclear fuel reprocessing plant to successfully vitrify high-level waste (HLW) — liquid waste converted into a glass substance. West Valley recently marked another first: completion of the HLW Relocation and Storage Project, one year ahead of schedule.
Nearly 280 canisters of vitrified HLW were produced and placed into storage in the site’s Main Plant Process Building. Workers relocated the HLW canisters from the building to an onsite interim storage pad, a necessary step to support the building's eventual demolition.
EM and contractor CH2M Hill BWXT West Valley (CHBWV) carried out extensive planning, design, construction, building modifications and the purchase of special transport equipment in accomplishing the task of transferring 56 vertical storage casks, each holding five HLW canisters and weighing 87.5 tons, from inside the plant to the storage pad. They are scheduled to remain there until they can be disposed in an approved facility.
Workers moved the final cask on Nov. 17. The casks, each including a 4-inch thick steel liner and 20 inches of steel-reinforced concrete, were fabricated onsite and carry a minimum design life of 50 years. The five-pack storage system design is based on spent nuclear fuel dry cask storage systems in use throughout the U.S. and around the world. The interim storage configuration meets or exceeds all state and federal regulations, and supports future offsite shipment of the HLW canisters.
“I continue to be amazed by the accomplishments of our team of dedicated employees,” said Bryan Bower, WVDP director. “They have safely achieved another first for the DOE complex. This is a huge step in moving forward with the deactivation activities of the Main Process Plant Building and Vitrification Facility as we prepare for demolition activities to begin in 2017.”
David Brown, CHBWV project manager, said workers remained focused on completing this important work one year ahead of schedule.
“This major accomplishment was made possible because of the hard work and dedication of this crew. We set a goal, worked together to solve problems as they arose, and remained focused. Only through their dedication to perform all work safely has this been possible, Brown said. “I am honored to have been a part of this team, and part of another West Valley Demonstration Project first.”