LANL cleanup modifies fieldwork to protect threatened species

March 31, 2021, 3:01PMRadwaste Solutions
The Mexican spotted owl, which finds a home in northern New Mexico’s canyons and forests, is a threatened species that the DOE strives to protect. Photo: Don Ulrich, taken in Flagstaff, Ariz.

To protect a treasured ecological species of northern New Mexico, the Los Alamos Field Office (EM-LA) of the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management and its contractor N3B this month began their annual task of modifying legacy waste cleanup activities at Los Alamos National Laboratory ahead of the Mexican spotted owl breeding season.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) listed the owl as a threatened species in 1993, when population numbers were decreasing drastically due to the loss, degradation, and fragmentation of their habitat.

Demolition of final Biology Complex building begins at Oak Ridge

March 26, 2021, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
Demolition begins on the six-story, 255,000-square-foot Building 9207, the final building in the former Biology Complex at Oak Ridge. Photo: DOE

Workers with the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) recently began demolishing the last facility standing in the former Biology Complex at the Y-12 National Security Complex at the Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee.

As announced by EM on March 23, removal of the massive six-story, 255,000-square-foot Building 9207 creates a new chapter of transformation and modernization for Y-12. Completion of the Biology Complex demolition is one of EM’s 2021 priorities.

According to EM, the facilities in the Biology Complex presented significant structural risks due to their deterioration, and their condition landed them on DOE’s list of high-risk excess contaminated facilities.

Secretary Granholm addresses WMS2021

March 10, 2021, 6:55AMRadwaste Solutions

Secretary Granholm during a live stream of the 2021 Waste Management Symposia.

Newly appointed Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm promised a more “collaborative and inclusive approach” to working with communities hosting and surrounding Department of Energy cleanup sites during a video address to the 2021 Waste Management Symposia on March 9. Granholm is the highest DOE official to ever address the annual conference dedicated to radioactive waste management, which is being held virtually this year due to the ongoing pandemic.

“Our work is about more than just restoring the land,” Granholm said of the DOE’s environmental management program. “It is really about keeping our promises to the American people. It is our responsibility to lift this burden from communities that have shouldered the burden of our safety and help them achieve a more vibrant and sustainable future.”

DOE official opens WM Symposia with 2021 EM priorities

March 9, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions

William “Ike” White, the DOE's acting assistant secretary for Environmental Management. Source: DOE

William “Ike” White, the Department of Energy’s acting assistant secretary for environmental management, helped open the 2021 Waste Management Symposia by announcing a new era for the department’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) and its cleanup mission. Speaking via live stream during the virtual meeting’s plenary session on March 8, White said, “Today, EM is at the start of a new era, with a new administration and a new set of priorities for the year, and, hopefully, the start of a new post-pandemic world.”

The new priorities that White touted are contained in EM’s Calendar Year 2021 Mission and Priorities, which outlines specific planned goals across the cleanup complex for the coming year. According to the DOE, the calendar serves as a marker for EM’s continuing success in addressing the legacy of nuclear weapons production and government-sponsored nuclear energy research.

Savannah River’s Salt Waste Processing Facility begins full operations

January 25, 2021, 12:07PMRadwaste Solutions

An aerial view of the Salt Waste Processing Facility at SRS. Photo: DOE

The hot commissioning testing phase of operations at the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF) has been completed, signaling the facility’s entrance into fully integrated operations with the other liquid waste facilities at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

Radiation shielding, environmental emissions, and product waste acceptance requirements were all tested and validated during the commissioning phase of the SWPF, the DOE announced on January 19. The SWPF will treat the approximately 31 million gallons of remaining salt waste currently stored in underground tanks at SRS.

Parsons Corporation, the contractor that designed and built the first-of-a-kind facility, will operate the SWPF for one year, beginning this month. It is anticipated that the facility will process up to 6 million gallons of waste during the first year of operations.

U-233 processing restarts at Oak Ridge following upgrades

October 22, 2020, 7:01AMNuclear News

A fissile material handler uses a shielded glovebox to dissolve U-233 into a low-level form so that it can be mixed with grout for safe transportation and disposal. Photo: DOE

The processing and downblending of uranium-233 for disposal has resumed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, following a pause in operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Energy announced on October 20. Removal and disposition of the U-233 is one of the DOE Office of Environmental Management’s highest priorities at the site, as stated in its strategic vision released earlier this year.

The project is removing a significant risk by eliminating the inventory of highly enriched fissile material stored in Building 3019, the world’s oldest operating nuclear facility, according to the DOE. Employees, known as fissile material handlers, use shielded gloveboxes to dissolve U-233 into a low-level form so that it can be mixed with grout for safe transportation and disposal. The material dates back decades and was originally pursued as a fuel for reactors; however, it did not prove to be a viable option.

Proposals being accepted for $21 billion Savannah River contract

October 7, 2020, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions

Savannah River’s integrated mission contract will combine liquid waste work with nuclear materials management.

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has begun accepting bids on a new 10-year, $21-billion contract for the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. EM issued a final request for proposal for the SRS integrated mission completion contract (IMCC) on October 1, posting it to EM’s dedicated SRS IMCC website.

The IMCC would coalesce the work of two current contractors, including Savannah River Remediation, the site’s liquid waste contractor led by Amentum with partners Bechtel National, Jacobs, and BWX Technologies, into a single contract, combining liquid waste work with nuclear materials management.

The deadline for proposals for the site contract is December 1.

Celebration held for startup of Savannah River’s Salt Waste Processing Facility

October 1, 2020, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

Participants in a ceremonial ribbon-cutting for the Salt Waste Processing Facility at the Savannah River Site included, from left, Rep. Joe Wilson; Parsons chairman and chief executive officer Chuck Harrington; under secretary for science Paul Dabbar; DOE-Savannah River manager Mike Budney; DOE senior advisor William "Ike" White; Parsons president and chief operations officer Carey Smith; SWPF federal project director Pam Marks; and Parsons senior vice president and SWPF project manager Frank Sheppard. Photo: DOE

The launch of the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF) at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina was marked on September 24 with a ceremony attended by the Department of Energy’s undersecretary for science, Paul Dabbar, and senior advisor to the undersecretary for environmental management, William “Ike” White. Also attending the event were Rep. Joe Wilson (R., S.C.) and representatives from the offices of Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and Tim Scott (R., S.C.).

“SWPF is the final piece to what is an impressive and highly successful liquid waste program here,” said Dabbar, who served as the ceremony’s keynote speaker. “Bringing it on line is a tremendous victory, not only for the site, but for the entire cleanup mission.”

DOE issues RFP for nationwide mixed LLW treatment services

September 8, 2020, 9:34AMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management issued a final request for proposal (RFP) last week for its Nationwide Low-Level Mixed Low-Level Waste Treatment Services procurement. According to the DOE, the RFP is being issued on a full-and-open, unrestricted basis. The DOE intends to issue one or more basic ordering agreements as a result of this RFP.

The final RFP was can be found on the website of the DOE’s Environmental Management Consolidated Business Center. It also will be posted to the Fedconnect website. The deadline for RFPs is September 30.

DOE marks 75th anniversary of Trinity Test by highlighting cleanup progress

July 16, 2020, 10:25AMRadwaste Solutions

On July 16, 1945, the research and development efforts of the nation’s once-secret Manhattan Project were realized when the detonation of the world’s first atomic device occurred in Alamogordo, N.M., more than 200 miles south of Los Alamos, in what was code-named the Trinity Test—a name inspired by the poems of John Donne.

On the 75th anniversary of this landmark event, the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) is highlighting the cleanup, long-term management, and historical significance of the Manhattan Project sites—Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Hanford, Wash.—that were conceived, built, and operated in secrecy as they supported weapons development during World War II.