Radwaste Solutions

Radwaste Solutions is a specialty magazine dedicated to the decommissioning, environmental remediation, and waste management segments of the nuclear community.


Argonne opens registration for D&D training course

April 23, 2024, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

Registration is open for Argonne National Laboratory’s Facility Decommissioning Training Course, a four-day instruction designed for those responsible for the decontamination and decommissioning of nuclear facilities and who are looking to understand the full breadth and depth of the D&D processes.

The next session will be held July 16–19 in Santa Fe, N.M. Information on the course and how to register can be found here.

Glass strategy: Hanford’s enhanced waste glass program

April 19, 2024, 3:05PMRadwaste SolutionsAlbert A. Kruger

The mission of the Department of Energy’s Office of River Protection (ORP) is to complete the safe cleanup of waste resulting from decades of nuclear weapons development. One of the most technologically challenging responsibilities is the safe disposition of approximately 56 million gallons of radioactive waste historically stored in 177 tanks at the Hanford Site in Washington state.

ORP has a clear incentive to reduce the overall mission duration and cost. One pathway is to develop and deploy innovative technical solutions that can advance baseline flow sheets toward higher efficiency operations while reducing identified risks without compromising safety. Vitrification is the baseline process that will convert both high-level and low-level radioactive waste at Hanford into a stable glass waste form for long-term storage and disposal.

Although vitrification is a mature technology, there are key areas where technology can further reduce operational risks, advance baseline processes to maximize waste throughput, and provide the underpinning to enhance operational flexibility; all steps in reducing mission duration and cost.

DOE issues final RFQ for WIPP clean energy initiative

April 19, 2024, 12:01PMRadwaste Solutions
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, near Carlsbad, N.M. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management has issued a request for qualifications for interested parties and prospective offerors looking to enter into a realty agreement for carbon-pollution-free electricity (CFE) projects at the department’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant site in southeastern New Mexico.

Bacteria found to reduce uranium mobility in clay

April 18, 2024, 7:04AMRadwaste Solutions
An artistic representation of a Desulfosporosinus cell with immobilized uranium on the surface. (Image: B. Schröder/HZDR)

Researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) research laboratory in Germany have investigated a microorganism capable of transforming water-soluble hexavalent uranium [U(VI)] to the less-mobile tetravalent uranium [U(IV)]. The researchers found that the sulfate-reducing bacterium Desulfosporosinus hippei, a relative of naturally occurring microorganisms present in clay rock and bentonite, showed a relatively fast removal of uranium from clay pore water.

Hanford brings second Vit Plant melter on line

April 15, 2024, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Vit Plant crews begin adding frit into Hanford’s second melter. (Photo: Bechtel National)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management recently announced that crews at the Hanford Site’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, also known as the Vit Plant, recently brought the second of two 300-ton melters up to the operating temperature of 2,100°F.

The Watchful Guardian: Argonne’s ARG-US remote monitoring technologies

April 12, 2024, 3:07PMRadwaste SolutionsKevin A. Brown and Yung Liu
The DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Ill. (Photo: DOE)

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory are developing and deploying ARG-US (from the Greek Argus, meaning “Watchful Guardian”) remote monitoring systems technologies to enhance the safety, security, and safeguards (3S) of packages of nuclear and other radioactive material during storage, transportation, and disposal.

Taking a train to Texas

April 11, 2024, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
The first major shipment of depleted uranium oxide for disposal departs the DOE’s Paducah Site in Kentucky in early 2023 for disposal at the WCS facility in Texas.

Last year in late August, 120 storage cylinders of depleted uranium oxide (DUOx) safely arrived by rail in West Texas, having been shipped from the Department of Energy’s Portsmouth Site in Ohio. It was the first such shipment of the stable crystalline powder from the Portsmouth Site and was another milestone in the DOE Office of Environmental Management’s (EM) efforts to ship DUOx for off-site disposal.

Nonproliferation proponents call on Biden to oppose SHINE's proposed recycling plant

April 8, 2024, 3:01PMRadwaste Solutions

A group of 29 nonproliferation supporters sent a letter to President Biden asking that he withhold federal support for a proposed pilot plant for recycling spent nuclear fuel to be built by the Wisconsin-based fusion tech company SHINE Technologies. The experts further asked that Biden “discourage” the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from licensing the plant, claiming it would extract enough weapons-grade plutonium to build 100 atomic bombs a year.

House E&C subcommittee to hold hearing on spent fuel management

April 8, 2024, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions

The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced a public hearing on improving the U.S. management of spent nuclear fuel. The hearing, titled “American Nuclear Energy Expansion: Spent Fuel Policy and Innovation,” will be held on April 10 by the E&C Energy, Climate, and Grid Security Subcommittee.

The hearing will be livestreamed on the E&C Committee website.

SRMC funds STEM scholarships for Voorhees University

April 5, 2024, 12:01PMRadwaste Solutions
SRMC’s Dave Olson (left) presents a $10,000 check to Voorhees University president Ronnie Hopkins. (Photo: SRMS)

Savannah River Mission Completion (SRMC), the liquid waste contractor at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site, recently presented a $10,000 check to Voorhees University to fund science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) scholarships.

Hanford lab upgrades for hot work and waste treatment

April 5, 2024, 7:01AMUpdated April 5, 2024, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Upgrades are under way at the Hanford Site's 222-S Laboratory, including replacing the Cold War-era windows in the labs hot cells. Photo: DOE)

Upgrades are underway at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site to prepare its 222-S Laboratory to treat tank waste under the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program.

WIPP marks 25 years of TRU waste operations

April 3, 2024, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
A screen shot of a video marking the 25th anniversary of operations at the WIPP disposal facility. (Image: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management celebrated a major milestone for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant last week, marking the 25th anniversary of the receipt of the first waste shipment at the disposal facility in New Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert.

Labor pact to boost pay, benefits to Oak Ridge cleanup workers

April 1, 2024, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
From left, Erik Olds, OREM deputy manager; Jay Mullis, OREM manager; Brandon Bishop, NABTU secretary-treasurer; Sean McGarvey, NABTU president; Ken Rueter, UCOR president and CEO; William “Ike” White, DOE-EM senior advisor; and Jeff Avery, DOE-EM principal deputy assistant secretary.

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management announced the signing of a project labor agreement (PLA) between Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) contractor UCOR and North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU). The agreement, which allows for flexibility in wage increases and other incentives, is expected to help recruit and retain skilled construction trade workers at the DOE site in Tennessee.

iLAMP: Neutron Absorber Material Monitoring for Spent Fuel Pools

March 29, 2024, 3:00PMRadwaste SolutionsHatice Akkurt

The spent fuel pool at TVA’s Watts Bar nuclear power plant near Spring City, Tenn. (Photo: TVA)

Neutron absorber materials are used by nuclear power plants to maintain criticality safety margins in their spent nuclear fuel pools. These materials are typically in the form of fixed panels of a neutron-absorbing composite material that is placed within the fuel pools. (A comprehensive review of such materials used in wet storage pools and dry storage has been provided by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) [1]).

With increasing plant life, there is a need to maintain or establish a monitoring program for neutron absorber materials—if one is not already in place—as part of aging management plans for reactor spent fuel pools.

Such monitoring programs are necessary to verify that the neutron absorbers continue to provide the criticality safety margins relied upon in the criticality analyses of a reactor’s spent fuel pool. To do this, the monitoring program must be capable of identifying any changes to the material and quantifying those changes. It should be noted that not all the changes (for example minor pitting and blistering of the absorber material) will result in statistically or operationally significant impact on the criticality safety margins.

For monitoring neutron absorber materials in spent fuel pools, until recently, two alternatives existed—coupon testing and in situ measurements. A third option, called industry-wide learning aging management program (i-LAMP), was proposed by EPRI and is currently in the final stages of the regulatory review. The following sections describe these monitoring approaches.

Direct waste transfer process quickens at Savannah River Site

March 29, 2024, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
SRS successfully made the first transfer of decontaminated salt solution directly from one waste processing facility to the other, bypassing a hold tank previously used in the transfer process. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management’s liquid waste contractor at the Savannah River Site this month marked the first direct transfer of decontaminated waste from the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF) to the Saltstone Production Facility (SPF). This is a new step in optimizing waste processing, according to the DOE.

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Full court refuses to review Texas interim storage case

March 19, 2024, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions

By a narrow vote of 9–7, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a petition to rehear the court’s 2023 decision to vacate Interim Storage Partners’ (ISP’s) license to build and operate a consolidated interim storage facility for commercial spent nuclear fuel in Andrews County, Texas.

De Facto disposal: The dumbest waste solution

March 15, 2024, 3:00PMRadwaste SolutionsMatthew Wald
The site of the Maine Yankee nuclear power plant, which was decommissioned in 2005. As with its sister plants Yankee Rowe and Connecticut Yankee, all that remains of the site is the plant ISFSI. Without a national waste management solution, spent fuel will continue to sit at sites such as these. (Photo: Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company)

After decades of false starts, U-turns, and stasis, the United States has arrived at a de facto solution for its high-level nuclear waste: Leave it in storage where it was produced, no matter how many tens of billions of dollars it costs, what impediments it raises for nuclear expansion, or what burdens it creates for the reuse of old reactor sites.

Dumb as it sounds, this is keeping all the major players happy. And it avoids alternative pathways, each of which has problems.

U.K. LLW project completed ahead of schedule

March 14, 2024, 3:03PMRadwaste Solutions
Waste drums at the Winfrith site's treated radwaste storage facility. (Photo: NWS)

More than 1,000 drums of low-level radioactive waste in the United Kingdom have been safely disposed of earlier than expected. The project was completed through the collaborative work of Nuclear Waste Services (NWS), Nuclear Restoration Services (NRS), and Nuclear Transport Solutions (NTS).