Radwaste Solutions

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

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.

Perma-Fix, Westinghouse to cooperate on U.K. waste treatment facility

March 15, 2022, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
Bulk Processing Unit at the Perma-Fix Northwest waste treatment facility. (Photo: Perma-Fix)

Westinghouse Electric Company and nuclear waste management company Perma-Fix Environmental Services plan to jointly develop a state-of-the-art advanced materials treatment facility in the United Kingdom. During the 2022 Waste Management Symposia, held last week in Phoenix, Ariz., the two companies signed a nonbinding agreement to cooperate on a facility that will provide low-level radioactive waste treatment services to the European market.

DOE releases updated cleanup strategy

March 10, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has issued EM Strategic Vision 2022-2032, a blueprint for planned nuclear-related cleanup efforts over the next decade. The document outlines environmental cleanup priorities for 2022–2032, focusing on safety, innovation, and improved performance.

According to a March 8 statement, the DOE is working to fulfill “the moral and ecological responsibility of safely dealing with contamination and delivering on environmental justice goals in communities that were vital to the development of nuclear weapons and advances in government-sponsored nuclear energy research.”

EM Strategic Vision 2022–2032, which is available here, is an update of previous iterations and was developed with feedback from regulators, tribal nations, local communities, and other partners.

Hanford K East Reactor cocooning project taking shape

March 8, 2022, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
An artist’s rendering of the K East Reactor safe-storage enclosure. (Photo: DOE)

Preparations are being made to enclose, or “cocoon,” the K East Reactor, the seventh of nine former reactors at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site. The cocooning project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Watch this video for more on the project.

Nuclear tech hub: Co-siting cutting-edge nuclear facilities with waste management sites

March 4, 2022, 3:09PMRadwaste SolutionsCharles Forsberg, Jacopo Buongiorno, and Eric Ingersoll

The organization of the commercial fuel cycle with the geographical separation of waste disposal facilities from other nuclear facilities is a historical artifact. There are large economic and institutional incentives to collocate many fuel cycle facilities with the repository. Similarly, there are large economic and institutional incentives to collocate proposed fission battery factories and nuclear hydrogen/synthetic fuel (synfuel) gigafactories with other waste management facilities (used fuel storage, low-level waste disposal, etc.) to create nuclear technology hubs that create economic savings, generate jobs and tax revenue, and simplify waste management.

NRC releases proposed decommissioning rule for public comment

March 4, 2022, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission published its proposed decommissioning rule in the March 3 Federal Register, opening a 75-day public comment period. Approved by the NRC in November 2021, the proposed rule would incorporate lessons learned from plants that have recently transitioned to decontamination and decommissioning and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the regulatory framework.

Last of spent fuel from INL’s ATR moved to dry storage

March 3, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Spent nuclear fuel handlers move the last ATR fuel to an awaiting cask in the CPP-666 basin. (Photo: DOE)

The last spent nuclear fuel elements from Idaho National Laboratory’s Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) have been retrieved from a water-filled storage basin and transferred to a nearby dry-storage facility in accordance with a 1995 agreement with the State of Idaho, the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced this week.

Canada’s CNL seeks stakeholder support for Chalk River disposal facility

March 2, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
A rendering of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ proposed Near Surface Disposal Facility. (Image: CNL)

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) is asking its stakeholders (members of the public, industry, elected officials, and employees) to support a proposal to construct the Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF) to dispose of legacy radioactive waste at the Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario.

Oak Ridge contractor to resume U-233 processing campaign in March

February 28, 2022, 3:04PMRadwaste Solutions
A screen shot of a YouTube video of the DOE’s U-233 Initial Processing Campaign at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Isotek, the Department of Energy contractor responsible for overseeing the inventory of uranium-233 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and preparing it for removal from the site, said it plans to resume preparations for processing high-dose U-233 in March. The company was forced to suspend its operational readiness review of the Initial Processing Campaign at Oak Ridge in January due to issues related to COVID-19, as well as difficulties operating in colder temperatures.

From Canada with love: Repatriating HEU to the U.S.

February 25, 2022, 2:59PMRadwaste SolutionsGlen Jackson and Jeffrey Galan
State troopers and first responders at a TRM roadshow stop in Virginia. The display LWT cask can be seen at the far right in its shipping container. (Photos courtesy of DOE/NNSA)

In March 2012, during the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea, the governments of Canada and the United States committed to work cooperatively to repatriate approximately 6,000 gallons of high-enriched uranyl nitrate liquid (HEUNL) target residue material (TRM) stored at the Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The announcement was part of a larger agreement between the two countries to reduce proliferation risks by consolidating high-enriched uranium at a smaller number of secure locations.

Final test run begins on Idaho’s IWTU after supply chain delays

February 25, 2022, 7:13AMRadwaste Solutions
The IWTU liquid nitrogen storage system at the DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory Site. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) stated on February 22 that its Idaho National Laboratory Site contractor is operating the final test run of the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU), running waste simulant through the facility to ensure the plant’s performance and personnel proficiency for upcoming radiological operations.

Canada announces program to protect property values near South Bruce

February 23, 2022, 6:58AMRadwaste Solutions
The NWMO said its Property Value Protection program satisfies one of the guiding principles set out to support local decision-making about Canada’s repository project. (Photo: NWMO)

Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) said in a February news release that it has developed a program to protect the value of properties near the potential site in South Bruce, Ontario, for the country’s deep geological repository for used nuclear fuel. Along with Ignace in western Ontario, South Bruce is one of the two potential locations the NWMO has identified for hosting a deep geological repository.

According to the NWMO, the Property Value Protection program reflects a responsible commitment to the community and addresses questions the organization heard from residents about whether property values will be affected if South Bruce is selected for the repository. The program, which was developed in consultation with the community of South Bruce, will compensate residents if the sale of their properties is negatively affected by the project.

India’s Kudankulam plant to use Holtec’s HI-STAR casks

February 17, 2022, 9:47AMRadwaste Solutions
Holtec’s HI-STAR 190 spent nuclear fuel transport cask. India’s NPCIL ordered the company’s smaller HI-STAR 149 cask for use at its Kudankulam plant. (Photo: Holtec)

Holtec International announced yesterday that its India-based subsidiary, Holtec Asia, has received an order from Mumbai-based Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) for two HI-STAR 149 transport casks to serve the away-from-reactor storage facility for the Kudankulam nuclear power plant.

Levin and Issa reintroduce bill to remove spent fuel from San Onofre site

February 16, 2022, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions



Reps. Mike Levin (D., Calif.) and Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) have reintroduced bipartisan legislation that would make the San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California one of the highest priority sites in the United States for the removal of spent nuclear fuel. The bill is being cosponsored by Reps. Scott Peters (D., Calif.), Michelle Steel (R., Calif.), Katie Porter (D., Calif.), and Young Kim (R., Calif.).

The Spent Fuel Prioritization Act would amend the Nuclear Waste Policy Act to require the Department of Energy to prioritize spent fuel removal from decommissioned reactors based on the size of the population near the plant, the seismic hazard associated with the area, and any national security concerns. The bill does not call for a permanent repository or consolidated interim storage, nor does it authorize the transfer of spent fuel to any non-consenting state or locality.

D&D of USS Nautilus prototype reactor to begin in 2023

February 14, 2022, 3:04PMRadwaste Solutions
The interior of the Submarine 1st Generation Westinghouse prototype, located at the Naval Reactors Facility on the INL site, circa mid-1950s. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced on February 10 that it is set to deactivate and demolish the prototype for the reactor used for the USS Nautilus, the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine and the first submarine to complete a submerged transit of the North Pole.

NRC denies petition to revise decommissioning rules

February 9, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has denied a petition for rulemaking, filed in February 2019 by Gerard P. Van Noordennen on behalf of EnergySolutions, requesting that the agency revise its regulations to allow licensees access to a nuclear power plant’s decommissioning trust fund to pay for the disposal of major radioactive components before the plant permanently ceases operations and begins decommissioning.

“Major radioactive components” refers to the reactor vessel and internals, steam generators, pressurizers, large bore reactor coolant system piping, and other large components.