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.

Looking back at 2022—April through June

January 4, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

Another calendar year has passed. Before heading too far into 2023, let’s look back at what happened in 2022 for the American Nuclear Society and the nuclear community. In today's post that follows, we have compiled from Nuclear News and Nuclear Newswire what we feel are the top nuclear news stories from April through June 2022.

Stay tuned this week for the top stories from the rest of the past year.

But first:

Savannah River closes liquid waste structures in place

December 14, 2022, 12:03PMNuclear News

Two diversion boxes were covered with concrete to permanently close them from future use. Top, one of the boxes is shown prior to it being entombed in concrete. Bottom, the diversion box after workers placed concrete over and around the structure. (Photo: DOE)

Two previously radioactive structures have been successfully entombed at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The DOE’s Office of Environmental Management and the Savannah River Mission Completion (SRMC), the DOE’s liquid waste contractor at SRS, placed concrete over and around two concrete structures—called diversion boxes—that contain a series of connection points that allowed high-level radioactive waste to be transferred from one tank or facility to another.

The two boxes have been out of service for more than 30 years. As part of the closure process, both structures were previously filled with grout, rendering them inoperable.

The boxes were the first ancillary structures closed in this way under SRMC’s liquid waste contract. They are located in the F Tank Farm, a grouping of large underground waste-storage tanks. The liquid waste program at SRS has closed eight of the site’s 51 massive waste tanks by filling them with cementitious grout.

Aecon-Wachs to help repurpose Savannah River’s MOX fuel facility

December 1, 2022, 6:53AMNuclear News

Aecon-Wachs, the U.S. division of Aecon Nuclear, has been tapped to support the Department of Energy’s goal of repurposing the unfinished Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina. Known as Building 226-F, the facility is being transitioned into the Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility (SRPPF) to produce plutonium pits for the nation’s stockpile of nuclear weapons.

SRS workers meet Pu downblending goals ahead of schedule

November 7, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
A view of Savannah River’s K Area, where employees began downblending plutonium in 2016. (Photo: DOE)

Contractor employees at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina recently exceeded their plutonium downblending goal for 2022 ahead of schedule as part of the ongoing activities to remove Pu from the state, the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced.

NNSA to take over ownership of Savannah River from DOE-EM

October 21, 2022, 11:51AMRadwaste Solutions
A view of the Savannah River Site’s H Area. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced on October 18 that it has begun the process of transferring primary authority of South Carolina’s Savannah River Site (SRS) to the National Nuclear Security Administration, with the transfer expected to be completed in 2025.

DOE extends Savannah River Site M&O contract

October 4, 2022, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
The Savannah River Site (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy has extended Savannah River Nuclear Solutions’ (SRNS) management and operating contract at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina for up to an additional five years. The announcement was made recently 29 by engineering company Fluor, which leads the SRNS joint venture, along with Newport News Nuclear and Honeywell.

Inaugural group graduates from nuclear operator program for Savannah River

September 6, 2022, 3:06PMRadwaste Solutions
DOE contractor Savannah River Mission Completion strengthened its ties with Aiken Technical College as the school graduated the first class of Nuclear Fundamentals trainees this summer. (Photo: DOE)

The first 36 students graduated this summer from Savannah River Mission Completion’s (SRMC) Nuclear Fundamentals Certificate program. SRMC is the Department of Energy’s liquid waste contractor at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina.

The program, which is a partnership between Aiken Technical College (ATC) and SRMC, is in its inaugural year.

Subcontracts awarded in support of Savannah River’s liquid waste mission

August 31, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

Department of Energy contractor Savannah River Mission Completion (SRMC) announced it has awarded four subcontracts worth a total of approximately $20 million to perform key engineering support for the liquid radioactive waste mission at the department’s Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C. Among the awardees are locally owned businesses and a woman-owned small business.

Procedures enhanced for Savannah River waste facility

August 25, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
The Solid Waste Management Facility at the Savannah River Site. (Photo: DOE)

The Solid Waste Management Facility (SWMF) at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site recently was subject to an enhancement program designed to improve procedure format and quality. The program has led to a greater efficiency and a streamlined procedure review process at the facility, according to the DOE’s managing and operating contractor at SRS.

DOE prepares for construction of Savannah River’s final waste disposal units

August 18, 2022, 12:02PMRadwaste Solutions
Crews begin clearing the site on which Savannah River Site’s SDU 10 will sit. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced that it is preparing for construction of the final three planned saltstone disposal units (SDUs) at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, which will complete the site’s liquid waste mission.

The SRS liquid waste contractor, Savannah River Mission Completion (SRMC), is overseeing the construction of the SDUs, which will receive decontaminated salt solution treated at Savannah River’s Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF).

Savannah River rebuilds its liquid waste equipment

July 29, 2022, 1:11PMRadwaste Solutions
A worker replaces a manipulator arm at the Savannah River’s SWPF. (Photo: DOE)

Savannah River Mission Completion (SRMC), the radioactive liquid waste contractor at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site, is optimizing some equipment maintenance at the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF). The facility traditionally uses centrifugal contactors in the solvent extraction process, and its laboratory uses manipulators to handle process samples and equipment within its radioactive cell. The equipment requires periodic maintenance and rebuilding.

DOE issues Record of Decision for Versatile Test Reactor’s final EIS

July 27, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
An artistic rendering of the Versatile Test Reactor. (Image: DOE)

The Department of Energy today issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final Versatile Test Reactor Environmental Impact Statement (final VTR EIS; DOE/EIS-0542). The VTR will be a sodium-cooled, fast-neutron-spectrum test reactor that will enhance and accelerate research, development, and demonstration of innovative nuclear energy technologies critical to tackling the climate crisis, according to the DOE.

The VTR ROD and final VTR EIS are available for viewing or download here.

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.

Last of SRS's legacy TRU waste arrives at WIPP

May 31, 2022, 12:12PMRadwaste Solutions
The final legacy TRU waste shipment from Savannah River Site departs the site in mid-April, on its way to WIPP in southeastern New Mexico for permanent disposal. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy reported this month that the final container of legacy transuranic waste from the Savannah River Site arrived at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant for permanent disposal on the afternoon of April 14. The shipment capped the end of a journey for 239 shipments that began in 2011.

In all, trucks that carried the shipments weighed a combined 11,402,000 pounds and travelled more than 347,000 miles to the WIPP site.

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.

Radiography unit at SRS verifies contents of TRU shipments to WIPP

February 16, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
Operators load a TRU waste drum into a real-time radiography unit for characterization at the Solid Waste Management Facility at the Savannah River Site. (Photos: DOE)

Operators at the Savannah River Site’s Solid Waste Management Facility can now characterize and certify newly generated TRU waste through the use of a real-time radiography unit that uses an X-ray system to examine the contents of waste containers. The equipment was recently installed to meet updated requirements set by the Department of Energy’s National TRU Program that involve evaluating the containers for chemical compatibility and oxidizing chemicals.

The shipments of TRU waste from SRS, in South Carolina, are sent to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), in New Mexico, for disposal.

Agreement reached on cleanup of 25-mile Savannah River Site stream corridor

January 31, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
An SRNS subcontractor technician takes radiological readings of soil near Lower Three Runs, part of a major project to complete the cleanup of a contaminated 25-mile-long stream corridor at SRS. (Photo: DOE) (CLICK TO SEE FULL PHOTO)

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS), the Department of Energy’s management and operating contractor for the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, has reached an agreement with the state of South Carolina and federal environmental regulators on the final cleanup of a 25-mile-long stream corridor at the site that was radiologically contaminated as a result of operations during the Cold War.

The corridor consists of Par Pond, nine miles of canals adjacent to the pond, and a stream named Lower Three Runs. The stream begins near the center of the site, just above Par Pond, and winds its way southward across SRS.

Savannah River employees honored with Secretary of Energy Achievement Awards

January 28, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
A cask of HEU arrives at the H Canyon facility. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy announced yesterday that Secretary of Energy Achievement Awards were presented to a team of Savannah River Site employees for the completion of the multiyear Target Residue Material (TRM) campaign to support global nuclear security goals.

SRS is a 310-square-mile site located in South Carolina. It encompasses parts of Aiken, Barnwell, and Allendale counties and is bordered on the west by the Savannah River and the state of Georgia.

Savannah River engineers engage students in real-world problem solving

January 21, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
From left to right, Richmond County Technical Career Magnet School (Team 1) students Leila Cortez, Jaidyn Moore, and Tamea Dunnom and teacher Carla Biley won third place in Best Engineering Student Design at the WORCshop@AU event. They are joined by Rick Connolly, SRNS operations and maintenance director and WORCshop@AU judge (second from right).

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS), the Department of Energy contractor responsible for the management and operations of the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, partnered with Augusta University to create WORCshop@AU, an education outreach opportunity to introduce local high school students to nuclear science careers by solving a real-world problem. The program concluded on December 9, when student teams presented their solutions during a friendly competition.