Radwaste Solutions

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


Pine forest helps safely disperse tritium at Savannah River Site

September 23, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
U.S. Forest Service employees Secunda Hughes (left) and Andrew Thompson inspect irrigation piping and sprinkler heads, part of a 62-acre pine plantation used to safely disperse tritium at the Savannah River Site.

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) is managing the release of tritiated water using a 62-acre plantation of pine trees and other natural resources to limit radioactively contaminated groundwater from reaching waterways on the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

Biochemistry research could have implications in nuclear waste remediation

September 22, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
During a fluorescence spectroscopy experiment at LLNL, the protein lanmodulin makes radioactive curium glow when exposed to UV light in the sample to the right. The schematic (left) represents the structure of the curium-protein complex, with three curium atoms bound per molecule of protein. (Photo: LLNL)

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, working in collaboration with researchers at Penn State University and Harvard Medical School, have discovered a new mechanism by which radionuclides could spread in the environment.

The research, which has implications for nuclear waste management and environmental chemistry, was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society on September 20.

Three Studies in Site Remediation

September 21, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste SolutionsJeremy Kartchner

For any nuclear power plant that has been permanently shut down, site restoration is the ultimate decommissioning goal when contracting with a utility to demolish a facility. The task, however, is not as simple as mobilizing heavy equipment and waving a wrecking ball or planting explosives to implode the facility, then loading up the debris and sending it to a landfill.

There is a real science and engineering approach necessary to safely restore the land to its original state. That has been the goal for EnergySolutions over the past decade as the company works to safely decommission shuttered nuclear power plants—packaging, transporting, and disposing of the waste, and restoring the sites for whatever reuse the owners and host communities see fit.

Eliminated as a repository site, Germany’s Gorleben salt mine to be closed

September 21, 2021, 7:05AMRadwaste Solutions
The headframe and buildings at the Gorleben salt dome in Germany. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The German government has announced that it is closing the Gorleben salt mine in the Wendland region of Lower Saxony, officially removing the site from consideration as a repository for radioactive waste. Gorleben became a target of antinuclear protests after being proposed as a potential repository in the 1970s.

Nevada’s legacy nuclear propulsion facilities slated for demolition

September 15, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
An archive photo of the Nevada National Security Site’s Test Cell C complex, which is being prepared for demolition and closure. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy is preparing to demolish two large, complex facilities at the Nevada Nuclear Security Site with ties to historical nuclear propulsion rocket development and testing programs. The DOE’s Environmental Management (EM) Nevada Program and its environmental program services contractor, Navarro Research and Engineering, have begun characterization and hazard reduction work on the site’s Engine Maintenance, Assembly, and Disassembly (EMAD) and Test Cell C (TCC) complexes.

Spent fuel facility receives NRC license days after Texas moves to ban it

September 14, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Click to open full graphic

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a license to Interim Storage Partners (ISP), a joint venture of Waste Control Specialists and Orano USA, to construct and operate a consolidated interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in Andrews, Texas. Issued on September 13, the license comes just four days after Texas governor Greg Abbott signed a bill to block such a facility from being built in the state.

SRS makes progress in treating contaminated groundwater

September 13, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
F Area operator Thomas Harman (left) and SRNS scientist Kevin Boerstler check the pumps, sensors, and piping that blend a base concentrate to inject into acidic groundwater at the Savannah River Site. (Photo: DOE)

The Savannah River Site is reducing the flow of hazardous and radioactive metal contaminants to South Carolina’s rivers and streams by injecting a mix of clean water and baking soda into the site’s groundwater. The base mix neutralizes groundwater that has become acidic as a result of SRS’s chemical separations work, helping restrict the flow of contaminants.

Release of La Crosse and Zion sites for unrestricted use delayed until 2022

September 13, 2021, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
The La Crosse site in 2019 with major decommissioning completed. The coal-fired Genoa plant is in the background. (Photo: EnergySolutions)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has extended its orders transferring the licenses for the La Crosse and Zion nuclear power plants from EnergySolutions back to the plant owners until late 2022. This is the third time the NRC has extended the effectiveness of the license transfer orders for the decommissioned plants since approving them in 2019.

Pamela Cowan: The Fleet Approach to D&D

September 10, 2021, 2:23PMRadwaste Solutions

Pamela Cowen

Having spent more than 25 years in the commercial nuclear power community, Pam Cowan has spent time in both the front- and back-end operations of nuclear power. It is this experience that she draws upon as the senior vice president and chief operating officer of Holtec Decommissioning International (HDI) to help her build a growing fleet of power plants undergoing decommissioning and demolition.

Cowan, who came to HDI from the Nuclear Energy Institute, is also senior vice president of decommissioning and regulatory affairs for HDI parent company Holtec International and president of the Nuclear Asset Management Company, the owner of the plants. Cowan also serves as a member of the board of directors of Comprehensive Decommissioning International, a decommissioning general contractor, jointly owned by Holtec and SNC-Lavalin.

Radwaste Solutions spoke to Cowan about Holtec’s fleet approach to decommissioning and her plans for HDI.

(Editor's note: Soon after this article was published in Radwaste Solutions, Westinghouse Electric Company announced that Pam Cowan had been appointed president of the company's Americas operating plant services unit. Cowan takes over the business on September 21, following the retirement of current president, David Howell.)

New maintenance process reduces worker dose at Savannah River tritium facility

September 9, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Operators disassemble a cutter head inside a module at the Savannah River's Tritium Extraction Facility using manipulators and hand tools. (Photo: SRNS)

Using basic hand tools and remote manipulators, operators at Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) were able to reduce radiation exposure to workers performing cutter head maintenance in the Savannah River Site’s Tritium Extraction Facility (TEF).

According to SRNS, the innovative procedure proved to be an excellent example of real-world application of As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) principles of time, distance, and shielding.

NorthStar allowed to intervene in sale of Kewaunee

September 8, 2021, 3:04PMRadwaste Solutions
NorthStar is challenging the sale of Kewaunee to EnergySolutions. (Photo: Dominion Generation)

NorthStar Group Services is being allowed to intervene in Wisconsin’s regulatory review of the sale of the Kewaunee nuclear power plant by Dominion Energy to EnergySolutions for decommissioning. An administrative law judge granted NorthStar permission on September 7 to participate in the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin’s review of the transaction.

Dangerous San Onofre dismantling job completed safely

September 7, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
A graphic representation of the tendons encircling the San Onofre containment domes. (Image: SCE)

A nearly yearlong effort to de-tension and remove more than 400 steel cables, known as tendons, from the two containment domes of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) was recently completed, with only one minor first aid incident recorded, according to Southern California Edison.

PNNL team weighs options for removing spent fuel from reactor sites

September 2, 2021, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Participants in a site evaluation of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. (Photo: Steve Maheras/PNNL)

Over the past decade, the Department of Energy has been collecting data on nuclear power plants to help plan for the eventual removal of spent nuclear fuel from the sites, performing site evaluations to assess transportation infrastructure and the transportability of spent fuel.

Deep Isolation to study borehole disposal in Slovenia

August 31, 2021, 6:59AMRadwaste Solutions
The TRIGA II research reactor at Slovenia’s Josef Stefan Institute. (Photo: Josef Stefan Institute)

The Berkeley, Calif.-based startup Deep Isolation has contracted with Slovenia’s radioactive waste management organization ARAO to conduct a feasibility study on the use of deep boreholes to dispose of the country’s spent research reactor fuel.

Final DOE buildings coming down at former Energy Technology Engineering Center

August 27, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Workers use high-reach shears to begin demolition of the Sodium Pump Test Facility at the former Energy Technology Engineering Center in California. (Photo: DOE)

Crews are in the homestretch of completing demolition of Department of Energy–owned buildings at the former Energy Technology Engineering Center (ETEC) site in Ventura County, California, the agency reported on August 24.

Orano delivers first spent fuel transport cask to South Korea

August 26, 2021, 7:04AMRadwaste Solutions
A ceremony marking the delivery of Orano’s TN-LC transport cask to Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Company was held on August 24. (Photo: Orano)

Orano has delivered its first TN-LC spent nuclear fuel transport cask to Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Company. The first use of the cask is planned for an international transport between South Korea and Sweden by the end of 2021.

KHNP received a license in June for the TN-LC transport cask from the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, South Korea’s regulatory agency, for the transport of high-burnup spent fuel.

Westinghouse signs agreement to dismantle Ringhals-1 and -2 components

August 23, 2021, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
Vattenfall’s Christopher Eckerberg (left) and Aziz Dag of Westinghouse Electric Sweden AB sign the agreement for decommissioning of large radioactive components at Sweden’s Ringhals-1 and -2. (Photo: Vattenfall/John Guthed)

Westinghouse will segment and dispose of the reactor internals and pressure vessels at Sweden’s Ringhals-1 and Ringhals-2 under a deal announced last week with plant owner Vattenfall. Unit 2, a pressurized water reactor, and Unit 1, a boiling water reactor, were shut down in 2019 and 2020, respectively, after operating for more than 40 years.

Pipeline connecting Hanford tank farm to Vit Plant completed

August 20, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Hanford workers fit sections of double-walled pipe in place, connecting the site’s tank farms to the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant. (Screen shot: WRPS/YouTube)

The Department of Energy is celebrating a major milestone in its tank waste mission at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. DOE tank operations contractor Washington River Protection Solutions has finished construction of the pipeline that will carry treated waste from an underground tank to the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) for vitrification.

Subcontracts awarded to enclose Hanford’s K East Reactor building

August 12, 2021, 9:07AMRadwaste Solutions
An artist’s rendition of the K East Reactor safe-storage enclosure. (Image: DOE)

DGR Grant Construction will construct a safe-storage enclosure over the K East Reactor building at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site in Washington state. Two construction subcontracts, worth about $9.5 million, were awarded to the Richland, Wash.–based company by Central Plateau Cleanup Company, the DOE’s Richland Operations Office site cleanup contractor.