DOE to ship Savannah River waste to Texas under new HLW interpretation

August 11, 2020, 10:20AMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy’s demonstration case of how it applies its interpretation of high-level radioactive waste is set to go forward, as the department issued an environmental assessment (EA) report, Final Environmental Assessment for the Commercial Disposal of Defense Waste Processing Facility Recycle Wastewater from the Savannah River Site (final EA), and a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for the disposal of the waste at an off-site facility.

Based on the final EA, the DOE intends to ship up to 8 gallons of recycle wastewater from the Savannah River Site’s Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF) to the Waste Control Specialists disposal facility in Andrews County, Texas, starting within the next 12 months. Under the final EA, up to 10,000 gallons DWPF recycle wastewater may be disposed of at a licensed facility outside of South Carolina.

Background: The DOE published in June 2019 a revised interpretation of the statutory term “high-level radioactive waste” that classified the waste based on its radiological contents rather than the origin of the waste. The DOE determined that some defense-related waste from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel may be classified as non-HLW and may not require disposal in a deep geologic repository.

The final EA documents that the 8-gallon quantity of DWPF recycle wastewater, which was generated from the vitrification of high-level reprocessing waste, meets the DOE’s criterion for non-HLW under its revised interpretation. The DOE’s characterization analysis shows that the DWPF recycle wastewater is anticipated to be Class B low-level radioactive waste. Prior to disposal, the wastewater would be mixed with grout to solidify and stabilize the waste.

The final EA and FONSI can be found on the DOE’s High-Level Radioactive Waste Interpretation web page.

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