DOE expands HLW canister double-stacking at Savannah River Site

October 5, 2021, 12:06PMRadwaste Solutions
Savannah River Remediation workers double-stack HLW canisters in an underground vault in Savannah River’s Glass Waste Storage Building 2 using a one-of-a-kind shielded canister transporter. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has demonstrated the capability to expand the double-stacking of high-level waste canisters at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. That approach will save the site’s cleanup program millions of dollars, according to the DOE.

Crews with SRS liquid waste contractor Savannah River Remediation (SRR) recently demonstrated stacking two canisters, one on top of the other, in Glass Waste Storage Building (GWSB) 2 at Savannah River. GWSB 2 is one of two interim storage facilities for the stainless-steel canisters.

The savings: Jim Folk, DOE-Savannah River assistant manager for waste disposition, said on October 4 that demonstrating double-stack capabilities in GWSB 2 means that EM will not have to build an additional interim storage facility for HLW canisters, saving more than $100 million.

“The Department of Energy is focused on completing the liquid waste mission at SRS,” Folk said. “Canister double-stacking is an innovative solution for providing the interim storage options needed for the high-level waste canisters.”

Vitrified waste: The canisters hold vitrified high-level waste from Savannah River’s Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF). Canister double-stacking has already been used in GWSB 1, with just over 1,350 canisters having been double-stacked there since the project began in August 2016. SRR has exceeded its fiscal year 2021 goal of double-stacking 300 canisters in GWSB 1.

Phil Breidenbach, SRR president and project manager, said, “We have proven it is safe, feasible, and effective to expand the canister double-stack project into Glass Waste Storage Building 2. The innovative thinking of our engineers and performance of our construction team have proved expanding the double-stacking improves the process and saves money, a win-win.”

Extra capacity: If fully implemented in both GWSB 1 and GWSB 2, this technique is expected to increase the total storage capacity in both buildings to 9,204 canisters, exceeding the total number of canisters projected to be produced by the DWPF. The canisters will be stored underground in GWSB 1 and 2 until a federal repository for high-level waste is established.

A feasibility study for double-stacking canisters in GWSB 2 verified the safety basis, radiological, fire protection, structural, environment, and other technical evaluations for GWSB 2 double-stacking, the DOE said.

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