Radwaste Solutions

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

Second waste retrieval machine installed at Sellafield

March 9, 2023, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
The first silo emptying machine installed in the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo at the U.K. Sellafield site. (Photo: Gov.UK)

The second of three machines that will be used to safely remove waste from the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo at the Sellafield nuclear site in the United Kingdom has successfully been assembled, it was announced by Sellafield Ltd., a subsidiary of the U.K. government’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

A video showing how waste is removed and the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo prepared for decommissioning has been posted to YouTube and can be found here.

Hanford’s DFLAW operations unlikely to begin in 2023

March 8, 2023, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions

Hanford manager Brian Vance discusses the DFLAW program during a panel session at the 2023 Waste Management Symposia. (Photo: DOE)

Hanford’s waste vitrification operations are unlikely to start by the Department of Energy’s year-end goal, said Brian Vance, manager of the DOE’s Office of River Protection and Richland Operations Office for the Hanford Site in Washington state. The DOE is working to meet its obligations to begin processing Hanford’s low-level radioactive tank waste as part of its Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program.

“The probability for 2023 is very low,” Vance said, regarding the department’s plan to begin vitrifying the tank waste. Vance made his remarks during a panel session of the 2023 Waste Management Symposia in Phoenix, Ariz., on February 28.

Concerning consent-based siting: An Interview with the DOE’s Kim Petry, Erica Bickford, and Natalia Saraeva

March 3, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

On December 1, 2021, the Department of Energy issued a request for information (RFI) asking for public feedback on using consent-based siting to identify sites for the interim storage of spent nuclear fuel. The department received more than 220 comments in response, and on September 15, 2022, the DOE released a report summarizing and analyzing those responses. That 57-page report, Consent-Based Siting: Request for Information Comment Summary and Analysis, will be followed by an updated consent-based siting process document.

The DOE’s consent-based siting initiative is being led through the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy. To learn more about that initiative and the consent-based siting process, Radwaste Solutions spoke with the DOE’s Kim Petry, acting associate deputy assistant secretary, Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition; Erica Bickford, acting office director, Integrated Waste Management; and Natalia Saraeva, team lead, Consent-Based Siting.

Hanford runs tests for melter replacements

March 2, 2023, 12:06PMRadwaste Solutions
Concrete blocks are loaded onto a metal base and transporter during tests on a gantry crane system that will lift replacement melters for Hanford’s WTP. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy has announced that tank operations contractor Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) and subcontractor Atkins are making progress at the Hanford Site in Washington state in their preparations to provide replacement melters to treat radioactive and chemical tank waste for the site’s Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste program.

Sen. Hawley introduces bill requiring cleanup of St. Louis area school

March 1, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
Contractors scan floors inside Jana Elementary School in Missouri during testing done in October 2022. (Photo: USACE/JP Rebello)

New legislation that would require the cleanup of Jana Elementary School in suburban St. Louis was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.). The Justice for Jana Elementary Act would also order the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to test all properties in the Hazelwood School District, of which Jana Elementary is a part.

Deep Isolation signs mentor-protégé agreement with WIPP contractor

February 28, 2023, 3:02PMRadwaste Solutions
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico. (Photo: DOE)

Waste management startup Deep Isolation announced that it has entered into a mentor-protégé agreement with Salado Isolation Mining Contractors (SIMCO), the new Bechtel National–led management and operations contractor for the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.

La Crosse BWR site released for unrestricted use

February 28, 2023, 12:00PMRadwaste 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 announced that it has released the site of the La Crosse boiling water reactor in Wisconsin for unrestricted public use. The action comes after the NRC found that EnergySolutions subsidiary LaCrosseSolutions had met the agency’s radiation protection standards in decommissioning the nuclear power plant.

ECA report urges DOE to take action on radwaste disposal

February 27, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions

The Energy Communities Alliance (ECA), an organization of local communities near Department of Energy national defense sites, has released a new report urging the DOE to prioritize finding disposal pathways for the radioactive waste it is obligated to clean up.

According to the ECA, the DOE could potentially save hundreds of billions of dollars in cleanup costs by using its available tools and implementing the recommendations contained in the report, Disposal Drives Cleanup: Re-Energizing Momentum for Disposal Solutions for Radioactive Waste.

Nevada lawmakers reintroduce bill meant to end Yucca Mountain

February 21, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

Cortez Masto


The Nuclear Waste Informed Consent Act was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last week by Rep. Dina Titus (D., Nev.). Previous iterations of the bill, designed to prevent the federal government from reviving the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository project, have all died in congressional committees.

The bicameral legislation, led by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D., Nev.), would require the secretary of energy to obtain the consent of affected state, local, and tribal governments before making an expenditure from the Nuclear Waste Fund for a nuclear waste repository. The bill is being cosponsored by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D., Nev.) and Reps. Steven Horsford (D., Nev.) and Susie Lee (D., Nev.).

New Generic Repository Environmental Standards: Draft Recommendations from ANS

February 17, 2023, 3:03PMRadwaste SolutionsPeter Swift, Michael Apted, Lake Barrett, John Kessler, and Steven Nesbit
An electric continuous miner machine cuts out a waste-emplacement panel at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant salt repository in New Mexico. (Photo: DOE)

Used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive wastes are by-products of nuclear energy production and other applications of nuclear technology, and the consensus approach to disposing of those wastes safely is to encapsulate them and emplace them in stable geologic formations (geologic repositories) where they will be isolated from people and the environment for very long periods of time. The federal government has established environmental standards for waste isolation that any proposed geologic repository must meet.

In July 2021, the American Nuclear Society established a special committee to consider possibilities for revised generic environmental standards for disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in the United States. The committee developed a number of recommendations, which are contained in a draft report that was to be issued in February for review and comment by stakeholders. The draft report can be found on the ANS website, at ans.org/policy/repositorystandard/.

The committee’s draft recommendations are based on two underlying assumptions. First, that the relevant legislative framework for regulation defined in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) remains unchanged. Specifically, it is assumed that the Environmental Protection Agency will be charged with promulgating environmental standards for disposal and that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be charged with reviewing applications for disposal facilities using licensing requirements and criteria consistent with the EPA standards. Second, that existing generic disposal standards will be updated or replaced.

Hanford waste tanks moved for disposal

February 16, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Two empty waste tanks weighing more than five tons each were transported from outside the Hanford Site’s Effluent Treatment Facility to an on-site landfill. (Photo: DOE)

Two large tanks near the Effluent Treatment Facility (ETF) at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site in Washington state were removed recently to make way for future wastewater treatment activities at the ETF.

Savannah River’s DWPF receives upgrades, exits outage

February 15, 2023, 9:40AMRadwaste Solutions
Savannah River’s DWPF has completed the conversion from formic acid to glycolic acid in the waste vitrification process. (Photo: DOE)

The Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF) at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina has resumed operations after a completing a processing improvement that the DOE said will enable safer operations and more efficient vitrification of radioactive waste.

Bechtel’s SIMCO assumes WIPP operations

February 14, 2023, 3:02PMRadwaste Solutions
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico. (Photo: EPA)

Salado Isolation Mining Contractors (SIMCO), a single-purpose entity comprised of Bechtel National and Los Alamos Technical Associates as a teaming contractor, has assumed responsibility for managing and operating the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.

NRC report updates decommissioning cost guidance

February 14, 2023, 9:58AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has updated its guidance for nuclear power plant owners and operators in estimating the cost of decommissioning their reactors. Licensed power reactor operators are required under NRC regulations to annually adjust the estimated costs (in current-year dollars) of decommissioning their plants to ensure that adequate funds are available when needed.

Court throws out New Mexico’s challenge to ISP’s SNF storage facility

February 13, 2023, 3:20PMRadwaste Solutions

Citing a lack of jurisdiction, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver has dismissed a petition by the state of New Mexico challenging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing of Interim Storage Partners’ (ISP) consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) in Andrews County, Texas.

NRC considers licensing an Idaho facility to handle LLW

February 10, 2023, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued an environmental assessment for Qal-Tek’s license application for a radioactive waste handling and temporary storage facility in Idaho. The NRC concluded that there would be no significant impacts to environmental resources from the proposed facility and subsequently issued a finding of no significant impact, notice of which was published in the February 6 Federal Register.

Some of Hanford’s tank waste to be disposed of off-site as LLW

February 9, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

As preparations continue for immobilizing millions of gallons of low-activity tank waste at the Hanford Site in Washington state through vitrification, the Department of Energy has issued two key decisions for the handling and disposing of vitrified low-activity waste (LAW) and associated secondary wastes.

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.