The Department of Energy approved the start of operations at the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF) at the Savannah River Site (SRS), authorizing hot (radioactive) operations to begin at the facility, the agency announced on August 17.
The approval comes five months ahead of the current baseline completion date of January 31, 2021. Parsons Corporation, which designed and built the first-of-a-kind facility, will operate it for one year.
“This is a considerable achievement for EM's (Environmental Management) cleanup program and will drive significant progress in treating the tank waste at SRS in the next decade,” said William “Ike” White, senior advisor for the EM to the Under Secretary for Science.
Project notes: The SWPF is the last major piece of the liquid waste system at SRS and will process the majority of the site’s salt waste inventory by separating the highly radioactive waste—mostly cesium, strontium, actinides, and waste slurry—from the less radioactive salt solution. After the initial separation process is completed, the concentrated high-activity waste will be sent to SRS's Defense Waste Processing Facility. The decontaminated salt solution will be mixed with cement-like grout at the nearby Saltstone Facility for disposal on site. Removing salt waste, which fills more than 90 percent of tank space in the SRS tank farms, is a big step toward emptying and closing the site’s remaining 43 high-level waste tanks.
“SWPF provides the final piece enabling completion of tank closure activities at SRS,” said Mike Budney , manager of DOE’s Savannah River Operations Office.
According to the DOE: The SWPF remains on track to start normal operations later this year following completion of hot commissioning. By 2030, it is expected that nearly all of the salt waste inventory at SRS will be processed, according to the DOE.