Radwaste Solutions

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


Idaho’s IWTU resumes heat-up following repairs

February 2, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste SolutionsJohn Fabian

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) said that heat-up of Idaho’s Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU) resumed in January. Crews began heating the IWTU in December in preparation of radiological operations, but the facility was shut down 10 days later after operators noticed a small leak of nonradioactive material inside one of the unit’s processing cells.

Located at the DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory Site, the IWTU is intended to treat Idaho’s 900,000 gallons of sodium-bearing liquid waste, converting it to a solid using a steam-reforming process.

After repairs were made to the IWTU equipment responsible for the leak, crews removed a partial obstruction that was in a line into the carbon reduction reformer, a key treatment vessel in the steam-reforming process, EM said.

Cs-137 sealed source found in Western Australia

January 31, 2023, 3:00PMUpdated February 1, 2023, 11:58AMRadwaste Solutions

A rendering of the sealed source capsule’s appearance. (Image: DFES)

Australian emergency services has located the lost sealed source, the BBC reported early February 1.

The cesium-137 capsule, part of a density gauge used at Rio Tinto’s Gudai-Darri mine in Western Australia, was found after a survey vehicle travelling at 70 km/h (43 mph) detected radiation, according to the report. According to Australia’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services, the capsule was located on the roadside of the Great Northern Highway, south of Newman. A serial number verified it was the lost source.

Last week, as reported yesterday by Nuclear Newswire, Australian authorities began searching 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) of Australia’s Great Northern Highway, between Perth and the remote town of Newman, for a lost sealed-source capsule containing cesium-137. The source was part of a density gauge used by mining company Rio Tinto at its mining operations in Western Australia.

Court dismisses challenges to Texas SNF storage facility

January 31, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
A rendering of ISP’s proposed interim storage facility in West Texas. (Image: ISP)

A federal appeals court rejected a lawsuit brought by environmental groups challenging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing of a consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) for spent nuclear fuel in Andrews County, Texas. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that the NRC reasonably applied its hearing regulations when approving Interim Storage Partners’ (ISP) license for the facility.

Oklo submits licensing plan for fuel recycling facility

January 25, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

Oklo said it has submitted a licensing project plan to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, outlining the company’s plans for preapplication engagement activities that support the future licensing of a used nuclear fuel recycling facility. The first-of-a-kind facility is intended to produce fuel to support the deployment of Oklo’s advanced fission power plants.

DOE cleanup teams win Secretary of Energy achievement awards

January 25, 2023, 12:01PMRadwaste Solutions
The ICP buried waste retrieval team successfully completed targeted TRU waste retrieval at the INL Site. The effort spanned 17 years and resulted in the exhumation of more than 10,000 cubic meters of buried TRU waste from 5.69 acres of the site’s Subsurface Disposal Area. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy recently honored eight teams from its Office of Environmental Management (EM) with Secretary of Energy 2022 Achievement Awards. The awards recognized projects at the DOE’s Idaho, Savannah River, and Hanford sites, as well as a group of employees that revamped and expanded DOE-EM’s Minority Serving Institutions Partnership Program (MSIPP-EM). In addition, DOE-EM employees on crosscutting departmental teams received awards.

The awards were part of the DOE’s annual Honor Awards, the agency’s highest form of employee recognition for excellence and achievement.

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Deep Isolation to launch demonstration center for borehole disposal

January 25, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

Nuclear waste management start-up Deep Isolation has announced the formation of a new Deep Borehole Demonstration Center. The new nonprofit organization will seek to advance the maturity of the safety case for deep borehole disposal and the technical readiness levels of the borehole disposal concept, including characterization, construction, canister handling, emplacement, and retrieval.

DOE seeks input on analysis of alternatives for treating Hanford’s HLW

January 24, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy is asking for feedback on a new report analyzing potential options for preparing high-level radioactive waste for vitrification at the department’s Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. Vitrification is the process of treating radioactive waste by immobilizing it in glass.

The report, Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant High-Level Waste Treatment: Analysis of Alternatives, was commissioned in response to a 2018 determination by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that it was unlikely the DOE would meet its mandated deadlines for treating Hanford’s tank waste.

DOE increases consent-based siting FOA to $26 million

January 23, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy has increased the funding level for its community engagement on consent-based siting funding opportunity announcement (FOA) from $16 million to $26 million. The DOE first announced it was making funding available to communities interested in learning more about consent-based siting, management of spent nuclear fuel, and interim storage facility siting considerations last September. The FOA follows the DOE’s recent update to its consent-based process for siting an interim storage facility for SNF.

Cell leak delays startup of Idaho’s IWTU

January 19, 2023, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions

Ten days after beginning a heat-up process to prepare for radiological operations at Idaho’s Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU), operators noticed a small leak of nonradioactive, nonhazardous solids in a cell, resulting in the facility’s shutdown in late December, the Department of Energy announced on January 10.

First shipment of surplus plutonium TRU waste sent to WIPP

January 16, 2023, 9:32AMRadwaste Solutions
The first shipment of downblended surplus plutonium from SRS’s K Area leaves SRS. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration and Office of Environmental Management have completed the first shipment of downblended surplus plutonium transuranic (TRU) material from the K Area at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.

World’s first nuclear-powered merchant ship to be decommissioned

January 11, 2023, 9:34AMRadwaste Solutions
The NS Savannah, the world’s first nuclear-powered merchant ship. (Photo: NARA)

The U.S. Department of Transportation has drafted a programmatic agreement (PA) on the decommissioning the NS Savannah, the world’s first nuclear-powered merchant ship. Christened in 1959 under President Dwight Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace initiative, which challenged world leaders to develop peaceful uses of nuclear power, the ship served as a demonstration project for the potential maritime use of nuclear energy.

Paducah breaks ground on new site emergency operations center

January 10, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Construction is underway on the Paducah Site's new Emergency Operations Center. (Photo: DOE)

Construction crews at the Department of Energy's Paducah Site in Kentucky have broken ground on a new Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to improve coordination and response to emergencies across the site.

The 3,500-square-foot facility will replace the existing EOC, which was established in the site’s C-300 Control Building around 1990. The C-300 Control Building was built during the 1950s. The new modern facility will be used to monitor environmental conditions and house emergency management personnel.

The new EOC is scheduled for completion in this year.

A video is available on the construction of the new EOC.

Animated video shows West Valley main plant demolition plan

January 9, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
A screen capture from the DOE's West Valley video. (Image: DOE)

A new animated video from the Department of Energy's Office of Environmental Management (EM) shows how cleanup contractor CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley (CHBWV) will take down the main plant process building at the West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP).

The EM team at West Valley wanted to convey the project to the public, and they believe the animation accomplishes that goal, according to Stephen Bousquet, EM WVDP federal project director for the Main Plant Deconstruction Project.

Click here to watch the video.

Team selected to dismantle Lithuania's Ignalina

January 9, 2023, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
The Ignalina nuclear power plant. (Photo: INPP)

A consortium comprising Westinghouse Electric Spain, Jacobs, and the Lithuanian Energy Institute has been selected to plan dismantling and waste management at the long closed two-unit Ignalina nuclear power plant in Lithuania.

Idaho’s IWTU prepares for radiological operations

January 6, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
The Integrated Waste Treatment Unit at the Idaho National Laboratory Site. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) said that the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU), the radioactive liquid waste treatment facility at the Idaho National Laboratory Site, began its final heat-up in December prior to initiating radiological operations, planned for early this year.

IWTU crews were to follow a prescribed incremental process as the facility transitions from simulant to sodium-bearing waste (SBW), according to EM.

NRC proposes to amend its rules on the use of credit ratings

January 4, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a proposed rule that would amend its regulations for approved financial assurance mechanisms for decommissioning. The rule is intended to implement the provisions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that directed agencies to amend their regulations to remove any reference to or requirement of reliance on credit ratings.

Hanford's former PUREX plant is prepared for disposition

December 19, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
An aerial view of Hanford’s Plutonium Uranium Extraction plant, showing the main facility (at center), the 211-A chemical storage area, and (in foreground) the 203-A acid storage area. (Photo: DOE)

Work crews at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site in Washington state are performing risk-reduction activities at the Plutonium Uranium Extraction (PUREX) plant to prepare it for eventual disposition.

“It will be a yearslong effort to get this large facility ready for disposition, and I’m encouraged by the progress to safely and efficiently advance this work,” said Andy Wiborg, the DOE’s Projects and Facilities Division team lead for Hanford’s Central Plateau cleanup project.

New Mexico tightens restrictions on WIPP permit renewal

December 14, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
A radiological control technician checks radiation readings on waste containers at WIPP. (Photo: WIPP)

The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) is adding several conditions to the operating permit for the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, N.M. The permit changes, which would prioritize the disposal of transuranic (TRU) waste generated in the state and limit the repository’s capacity, are contained in a fact sheet the NMED.

Hanford facilities upgrading to support tank waste treatment

December 13, 2022, 9:31AMRadwaste Solutions
A tanker holding 6200 gallons of leachate unloads at a backup load-in station at the Hanford Site’s ETF. (Photo: DOE)

Construction of a backup load-in station has been completed at the Hanford Site’s Effluent Treatment Facility (ETF) in Washington state.

“We broke ground on the backup facility about a year ago,” said Rob Wood, project manager for Washington River Protection Solutions, the Department of Energy’s tank operations contractor at the site. “I am proud of the team for completing this portion of the load-in expansion project and doing it safely. In phase two, expansion of the main load-in station will prepare us for 24/7 operations on the Hanford Site.”

Watch a time-lapse video of the backup load-in station construction here.