Hanford prepares to empty waste from single-shell tank

August 15, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Hanford workers will soon begin retrieving about 373,000 gallons of waste from Tank AX-101, shown here in an image from an inspection video shot. (Photo: DOE)

Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) is preparing to retrieve waste from Tank AX-101 at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. WRPS is the tank operations contractor at Hanford.

DOE’s legal authority to sell depleted uranium uncertain, GAO says

August 1, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
A DUF6 storage cylinder is moved at the Portsmouth DUF6 conversion facility. (Photo: DOE)

The Government Accountability Office is recommending that Congress clarify the Department of Energy’s legal authority to sell depleted uranium hexafluoride (DUF6) left over from uranium enrichment operations at the department’s Portsmouth Site in Ohio and the Paducah Site in Kentucky.

House subcommittee asks for improvements to nuclear cleanup strategy

July 19, 2022, 7:07AMRadwaste Solutions
Rep. Jamaal Bowman during a hearing of the House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Energy.

The House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing last week to evaluate the Department of Energy’s approach to research and development on new strategies and technologies to support the nuclear waste cleanup mission of its Office of Environmental Management (EM).

Idaho completes test run of liquid waste treatment facility

July 14, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Workers inspect the IWTU’s process gas filter before the current confirmatory run. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) said it continues to make progress toward the start of operations of the Idaho National Laboratory Site’s Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU), having completed a final test run of the facility.

Operation of the IWTU, which was constructed to treat approximately 900,000 gallons of radioactive liquid waste, has been delayed a number of times, most recently due to supply chain issues.

DOE awards $3 billion WIPP M&O contract to Bechtel affiliate

July 13, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico.

Reston, Va.-based Tularosa Basin Range Services (TBRS), a single-purpose entity under the umbrella of Bechtel National, has been awarded the 10-year, $3 billion management and operating contract for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) by the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM). Located near Carlsbad, N.M., WIPP is the DOE’s geologic repository for defense-generated transuranic waste.

The new contract replaces the current WIPP M&O contract held by Nuclear Waste Partnership, which expires on September 30. The contract with TBRS was announced on July 11.

Accelerated SRS spent fuel disposition plan to save billions, DOE says

July 7, 2022, 9:34AMRadwaste Solutions

Savannah River Site’s H Canyon and L Basin. (Photo: DOE-EM)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has approved a new plan that will accelerate the disposition of spent nuclear fuel at its Savannah River Site in South Carolina by more than 20 years, which will result in a savings of more than $4 billion.

Under the newly approved approach, called accelerated basin de-inventory (ABD), SRS will dissolve spent fuel at the site’s H Canyon chemical separations facility and send it through the liquid waste program to be vitrified and stored on-site until a federal repository is identified.

Cocooning of Hanford’s K East Reactor begins

June 29, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
The first steel columns, each weighing up to 28 tons, were placed for a cocoon over the former K East Reactor building at the Hanford Site. (Photo: DOE-EM)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) said that construction is well underway on a protective enclosure, or cocoon, for the K East Reactor building at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash.

EM reports that is has achieved one of its key construction priorities for 2022 by beginning construction of the enclosure, which is designed to protect the reactor building while the radioactivity in the deactivated reactor core decays over the next several decades, making it safer and easier to decommission.

A time-lapse video showing the construction of the cocoon’s massive 120-foot steel frame can be seen here.

CAST awarded WIPP transportation contract

June 21, 2022, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
A CAST Specialty Transportation truck loaded with TRUPACT-II shipping containers at WIPP. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has awarded CAST Specialty Transportation a contract to provide transportation services for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the DOE’s repository for defense-generated transuranic (TRU) waste near Carlsbad, N.M.

Savannah River Site uses passive system to remove groundwater contaminants

June 8, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
SRNS environmental engineers Bryce Garner (left) and Adam Willey (center) ask questions of lead operator Daniel Ferrell (right), from field services contractor Cascade Environmental, as he describes how equipment injects oil and iron into the Savannah River Site’s groundwater. (Photo: DOE)

In this week’s “EM Update,” the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) reports that its contractor Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) has successfully reduced degreasing solvents in the aquifer beneath the Savannah River Site in South Carolina using a technology that injects a form of iron and oil into groundwater.

“The oil attracts the Cold War[–era] cleaning solvents while the iron degrades and neutralizes the contamination,” said Shannan Lucero, SRNS manager for area closure projects.

Demolition begins on high-risk contaminated Y-12 building

June 1, 2022, 3:01PMRadwaste Solutions
Demolition crews remove some of the auxiliary structures surrounding the main building of the Criticality Experiment Laboratory on the Oak Ridge Reservation. (Photo: DOE)

A contractor for the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) started tearing down a 1940s-era facility in May at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Demolition of the former Criticality Experiment Laboratory, also known as Building 9213, is the latest project by EM to address a large inventory of high-risk excess contaminated facilities at the Oak Ridge Reservation.

DOE issues final RFPs for Portsmouth, Paducah contracts

May 31, 2022, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) last week began accepting bids for the contract to manage the Portsmouth site in Ohio and Paducah site in Kentucky, where the former uranium enrichment plants are being decommissioned and remediated.

The final request for proposals for the Portsmouth Paducah Project Office’s Operations and Site Mission Support (OSMS) contract were issued by EM on March 25. The new contract, which has an estimated value of $2.9 billion over the 10-year performance period, will replace an existing contract currently held by Mid-America Conversion Services.

DOE officials check out cleanup progress in Paducah

May 27, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Dae Chung, associate principal deputy assistant secretary for corporate services (second from left) and other EM officials recently toured the Paducah Site. Also pictured (from left) are Jennifer Woodard, acting senior advisor to Chung; Jolie Fleming, technical services director for Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership; and Lisa Phillips, physical scientist. In this photo, they discuss the new criticality accident alarm system in the C-333 process building at Paducah. The building is being deactivated to prepare for future demolition. (Photo: DOE)

Officials from the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management recently got a firsthand look at cleanup progress being made at the Paducah Site in western Kentucky. The site is owned by the DOE, which is overseeing environmental cleanup activities there, including environmental remediation, waste management, depleted uranium conversion, and decontamination and decommissioning.

The visit by Dae Chung, associate principal deputy assistant secretary for corporate services, and other EM officials included stops at the C-400 cleaning building remediation project, the new Large Item Neutron Assay System (LINAS), and the C-333 process building deactivation.

Proposed DOE-EM funding would advance technology development

April 28, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Savannah River National Laboratory recently oversaw a demonstration of a new radiological inspection technology called iGART, a ground-based robot that conducts radiological and nuclear inspections. The DOE’s Office of Environmental Management used the demonstration at the Savannah River Site to determine if there is an application value for iGART at SRS or other EM sites. (Photos: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management is looking to continue developing technology to aid in site cleanup activities if its fiscal year 2023 budget request is approved. The $7.64 billion budget request includes about $25 million for EM’s Technology Development Office.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Hanford’s cesium removal system begins waste treatment operations

February 4, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
WRPS operations engineer Steven Porter, left, and nuclear chemical operator Brent Walker monitor the TSCR System in the control room as the system is put in operations mode. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy announced on Wednesday that the first large-scale treatment of radioactive and chemical waste from underground tanks at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash., has begun with the start of operations of the Tank-Side Cesium Removal (TSCR) System.

The newly operational TSCR System removes radioactive cesium and solids from the tank waste. The treated waste will be fed directly to the nearby Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) for vitrification when the plant comes on line next year.

DOE notes progress in campaign to transfer radioactive capsules to dry storage at Hanford Site

January 27, 2022, 12:03PMRadwaste Solutions
Workers recently installed manipulator equipment at a full-scale mock-up of areas of the Hanford Site’s Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced this week that preparations are well underway for the transfer of nearly 2,000 highly radioactive cesium and strontium capsules from the Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility (WESF) to interim dry storage at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash.