Radwaste Solutions

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

NRC extends public comment period on decommissioning rule

May 19, 2022, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has extended the deadline for comments on its new decommissioning rulemaking until August 30. The proposed rule, which would amend NRC regulations pertaining to nuclear facilities transitioning to decommissioning, was first published in the Federal Register on March 3 with deadline for comments of May 17.

IAEA team recommends improvements to Denmark’s radwaste program

May 13, 2022, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Denmark’s Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy. The two cylindrical buildings outermost on the peninsula contained the two nuclear reactors DR-2 and DR-3. (Photo: DTU)

An independent review of Denmark’s radioactive waste management program by an International Atomic Energy Agency team found that the country has developed a robust and well-functioning system, but that the national program needs further refinement if it is to be effectively implemented.

The government of Denmark requested the review of its waste management program to fulfil its European Union obligations requiring an independent review of EU member states’ national radioactive waste management programs. The Danish parliament adopted a resolution outlining the policy goals and activities of its national program for safely managing radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel in 2018.

International workshop to evaluate geologic repository safety assessment software

April 25, 2022, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

Sandia National Laboratories engineers Emily Stein, left, and Paul Mariner discuss recent results from their Geologic Disposal Safety Assessment software framework.

Ten teams of scientists from across the globe, including teams from the United States, Canada, Germany, and Taiwan, are virtually comparing software tools developed to assess the safety performance of deep geologic repositories for nuclear waste. The virtual workshop, held this month, is being conducted by members of an international collaboration called Development of Coupled Models and their Validation against Experiments, or DECOVALEX.

“The DECOVALEX initiative creates an important framework for experts in repository sciences from around the world to test and improve simulation models that are important to assessing the safety of geologic disposal,” said Jens Birkholzer, chairman of the initiative and a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Web campaign advocates for nuclear waste solution

April 21, 2022, 3:08PMRadwaste Solutions

Waste management start-up company Deep Isolation has launched an online campaign to educate the public about nuclear waste and gain support for solving the issue to protect the environment, increase energy security, and remove a barrier to nuclear energy.

The website Solve Nuclear Waste aims to increase awareness about the need for permanent nuclear waste disposal to help secure a clean energy future. Visitors to the site can sign a petition that the company will share with elected officials and decision-makers to demonstrate that the public cares about the issue.

Canada moves closer to selecting spent fuel repository site

April 13, 2022, 7:11AMRadwaste Solutions
An NWMO geoscientist examines core samples pulled from rock in South Bruce, Ontario, as part of investigations of a potential deep geological repository. (Photo: NWMO)

Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has completed a deep borehole drilling program at the two sites in Ontario under investigation for potentially hosting a deep geological repository to hold the country’s spent nuclear fuel. The NWMO said that Canada’s top geoscientists are leading the studies, in which approximately eight kilometers of core samples were pulled from the bedrock in the Wabigoon-Ignace area and the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON)–South Bruce area.

WIPP: Abnormal event declared, no risk to workers or public

April 11, 2022, 3:02PMRadwaste Solutions
The Department of Energy's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, in New Mexico. (Photo: DOE)

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and Joint Information Center (JIC) were activated on April 9 following an abnormal event that occurred during routine waste handling at the Department of Energy’s WIPP repository for transuranic waste, near Carlsbad, N.M.

NRC to consolidate LLW rulemaking

April 11, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
An NRC diagram of a LLW waste disposal site.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will integrate two separate rulemaking activities concerning the disposal of low-level radioactive waste, issuing a “re-proposed” rule that consolidates updates to 10 CFR Part 61, “Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal,” and proposed changes to the requirements for the near-surface disposal of greater-than-Class C (GTCC) waste.

NRC schedules public meetings on D&D rulemaking

April 7, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has announced that it will hold public meetings this month to present its proposed regulations for nuclear power plants transitioning from operating status to decommissioning.

The meetings will be held on April 12 in Chicago, April 19 in Atlanta, and April 21 in Plymouth, Mass. The meetings will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. local time and will include an opportunity for members of the public to ask questions. Those unable to attend in person can participate via Microsoft Teams. Details on meeting venues and virtual participation are provided in the public meeting notices at the above links.

U.K. develops robotic system for Dounreay D&D

April 6, 2022, 3:04PMRadwaste Solutions
A robot called Lyra was used to survey an underground radioactive ventilation duct in Dounreay’s redundant laboratories. (Photo: NDA)

Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd. (DSRL) and the Robotics and Artificial Intelligence in Nuclear (RAIN) Hub, a consortium of universities led by the University of Manchester, are working together on the development of robots capable of accessing areas that are inaccessible or unsafe for humans to work in. The robots will be used to inspect and characterize Dounreay’s laboratories, buildings, and structures as the United Kingdom prepares to decontaminate and decommission the nuclear site.

NRC approves Kewaunee license transfer to EnergySolutions for decommissioning

April 5, 2022, 6:58AMRadwaste Solutions
The Kewaunee nuclear power plant in Carlton, Wis.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the transfer of the operating license of the shutdown Kewaunee nuclear power plant from Dominion Energy to EnergySolutions. The transfer, which includes the general license for the Wisconsin site’s spent fuel storage facility, is contingent upon approval by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

EnergySolutions entered into an agreement with Dominion in May 2021 to acquire the Kewaunee site for decommissioning.

Radiological waste transportation & disposal: A decommissioning manager’s perspective

April 1, 2022, 12:00PMRadwaste SolutionsAndy Lombardo
Waste packages are loaded with contaminated soil during remediation work at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. (Photo: PermaFix)

Depending on the size and complexity of a decommissioning project, the transportation and disposal of radioactive waste will have an oversized impact on planning, schedule, and budget. The scope of decommissioning a site contaminated with radioactive material begins and ends with the proper and safe packaging of waste and subsequent transportation from the site to the final disposal location. Once all of the waste is gone from the site, the compliance exercise can be completed and the site released from controls (i.e., the radioactive materials license is terminated and the site is decommissioned).

Idaho waste retrieval project reaches early completion

April 1, 2022, 7:11AMRadwaste Solutions
An aerial view of the Radioactive Waste Management Complex at the Idaho National Laboratory site. (Photos: DOE)

Idaho Gov. Brad Little, attorney general Lawrence Wasden, Idaho legislators, county and city representatives, and the Department of Energy’s cleanup program management staff gathered at the Idaho National Laboratory site on March 30 to mark the completion of a cleanup project that helps protect the Snake River Plain Aquifer and fulfills a commitment with the State of Idaho.

EnergySolutions and RSCS team up to decommission NS Savannah

March 31, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
NS Savannah at Pier 13 in Baltimore, Md., in 2012.

Utah-based EnergySolutions is joining Radiation Safety and Control Services (RSCS) in the decommissioning of NS Savannah, the world’s first nuclear-powered merchant ship, currently berthed at the Port of Baltimore in Maryland. EnergySolutions announced on March 29 that a joint venture of the two companies, Nuclear Ship Support Services, is conducting the final phases of decommissioning the ship’s reactor, which was defueled in 1975 but remains in place.

Holtec and Hyundai to cooperate on D&D projects

March 30, 2022, 3:07PMRadwaste Solutions
Holtec president and chief executive officer Kris Singh (left) and Hyundai E&C president and CEO Yoon Young-Joon at the teaming agreement signing ceremony. (Photo: Holtec)

Holtec International and Hyundai Engineering & Construction have signed an agreement to cooperate in the area of nuclear plant decontamination and decommissioning.

Under the teaming agreement, Hyundai E&C will participate in D&D activities at Holtec-owned decommissioning sites in the United States to build its capabilities and experience in preparation for decommissioning projects in South Korea, which will be undertaken by the two companies. The agreement also provides for the two companies to further expand their cooperation internationally.

Remediation of two Kyrgyz uranium legacy sites completed

March 29, 2022, 7:02AMRadwaste Solutions
A view of the village of Min Kush in central Kyrgyzstan. (Photo: EBRD)

The remediation of two former Soviet-era uranium mining sites in Kyrgyzstan has been completed on schedule and below budget, despite difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) announced on March 28.

BATS Part III: Carrying out phase 3 of the WIPP brine availability test in salt

March 25, 2022, 4:02PMRadwaste SolutionsMollie Rappe
Sandia National Laboratories researchers Melissa Mills, left, and Kristopher Kuhlman peer through a WIPP salt sample.

Last fall, scientists from Sandia, Los Alamos, and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories began the third phase of a years-long experiment to understand how salt and very salty water behave near hot nuclear waste containers in a salt-bed repository. Initiated in 2017, the Brine Availability Test in Salt (BATS) project is part of a spent nuclear fuel research campaign within the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE).

UCOR earns 98 percent of fee for Oak Ridge work

March 24, 2022, 6:57AMRadwaste Solutions
UCOR workers remove waste from the Alpha-2 building at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy recently awarded $24.7 million to Oak Ridge cleanup contractor UCOR for its work at the Oak Ridge site in Tennessee from April 2021 through October 2021, amounting to 98 percent of the available fee for the evaluation period.

Challenges to Texas SNF facility filed in federal court

March 23, 2022, 7:09AMRadwaste Solutions

Several antinuclear groups are challenging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing of Interim Storage Partners’ (ISP) consolidated interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in Andrews, Texas, by filing briefs in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on March 18. The groups appealing the license include Beyond Nuclear, Don’t Waste Michigan (a coalition of seven environmental groups), and Sierra Club.

The NRC granted ISP a license in September 2021, authorizing the company to receive, possess, transfer, and store up to 5,000 metric tons of spent fuel and 231.3 metric tons of greater-than-Class C radioactive waste for 40 years. ISP plans to expand the facility in seven additional phases, up to a total capacity of 40,000 metric tons of fuel.

One man’s trash: Extracting valuable isotopes from waste material

March 17, 2022, 9:31AMRadwaste Solutions
A vial containing Th-299 extracted from uranyl nitrate.

This past October, the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) and its contractor Isotek successfully completed processing and disposing the low-dose inventory of uranium-233 stored at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), ending a two-year effort that has eliminated a portion of the site’s legacy nuclear material and provided rare nuclear isotopes for next-generation cancer treatment research.

GAO report: WIPP projects continue to be at risk

March 17, 2022, 6:54AMRadwaste Solutions
Workers construct a new ventilation system's filter building last year at WIPP. (Photo: DOE)

Without a plan for addressing issues in completing construction projects at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico, the Department of Energy cannot ensure that further cost increases and schedule delays will not continue, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office. In particular, the GAO said, the DOE has not developed a corrective action plan to address root causes identified for the rising cost and the delay in building a new ventilation system at the transuranic waste repository.