Environmental Management: GAO Report Shows Mission Far From Complete

September 23, 2022, 3:01PMRadwaste SolutionsSarah Templeton
The Effluent Management Facility, part of the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant at the Hanford Site. (Photo: Bechtel National)

This spring, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released an insightful report reviewing and summarizing the status and performance of the largest projects and operations within the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM), which is responsible for the cleanup of hazardous and radioactive waste at sites and facilities that have been contaminated from decades of nuclear weapons production and nuclear energy research.

Holtec to provide spent fuel canisters to six Spanish reactors

September 21, 2022, 3:14PMRadwaste Solutions
Spain’s nuclear power plants are to use Holtec’s HI-STORM spent fuel storage technology. (Image: Holtec)

Holtec International announced that its flagship HI-STORM Multi-Purpose Canister (MPC) spent fuel storage technology was selected by Spain’s national company Enresa for a fleet of six nuclear power reactors at four plant sites in the country. Equipos Nucleares S.A. (ENSA), a Cantabria-based manufacturer of equipment for the Spanish nuclear fleet, was named a consortium partner with Holtec in the order, which was conducted under European Union procurement rules.

Atkins breaks ground on new technology center near Hanford Site

September 20, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions

Atkins Nuclear Secured Holding Corporation, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, celebrated the start of construction on its new, $20 million, state-of-the-art Atkins Technology Center (ATC) with a ground-breaking ceremony held on September 13 in Richland, Wash. Located near the Department of Energy’s Hanford nuclear reservation, the facility will be adjacent to the existing Atkins Engineering Laboratory.

Switzerland zeroes in on deep geological repository site

September 14, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
An illustration of Switzerland’s proposed deep geological repository. (Image: Nagra)

Nagra, Switzerland’s national cooperative for the disposal of radioactive waste, has announced that it has selected Nördlich Lägern as the site for a deep geological repository for radioactive waste. According to Nagra, extensive investigations have shown that Nördlich Lägern, located in northern Switzerland near the German border, is the most suitable area for a geologic repository with the best overall safety reserves.

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.

Washington and DOE reach an agreement on leaking Hanford tanks

August 26, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The B Farm underground waste tank area at Hanford. (Photo: DOE)

Washington state’s Department of Ecology and the U.S. Department of Energy have agreed on a plan for how to respond to two underground tanks that are leaking radioactive waste, as well as any future tank leaks, at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash.

In April 2021, following a year-long leak assessment, the DOE announced that Hanford’s Tank B-109 is leaking waste into the surrounding soil. Tank T-111 was discovered to be leaking in 2013. Currently, Tank B-109 is leaking about 1.5 gallons of waste per day, and Tank T-111 is leaking less than a gallon a day, according to the DOE.

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).

NWTRB to hold public meeting on the disposal of spent fuel in clay

August 18, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (NWTRB) announced it will hold a public meeting on September 13–14 to review information on Department of Energy research and development activities related to the geologic disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in clay-bearing host rocks and R&D on clay-based engineered barriers. The hybrid (in-person/virtual) meeting will begin on both days at 12:00 p.m. EDT and is scheduled to adjourn at approximately 5:00 p.m. EDT.

The NWTRB is an independent federal agency that provides ongoing, objective evaluation of the technical and scientific validity of activities undertaken by the DOE related to implementing the Nuclear Waste Police Act.

Canada adds one year to its repository site selection process

August 17, 2022, 6:59AMRadwaste Solutions
Ontario’s South Bruce area is being considered as a potential host site for a spent fuel repository. (Photo: NWMO)

Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is shifting the timing for selecting a preferred site for a spent nuclear fuel repository to the fall of 2024, a full year later than previously planned. The NWMO, a nonprofit organization tasked with the safe, long-term management of Canada’s spent fuel in a deep geological repository, said the delay is the result of several provincial lockdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

UCOR wins Top Workplace award

August 9, 2022, 3:03PMRadwaste Solutions
Members of the UCOR team receive their award at a Top Workplaces event.

United Cleanup Oak Ridge (UCOR), the lead environmental cleanup contractor for the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM), has been named one of the Knoxville News Sentinel’s “Top Workplaces” in eastern Tennessee for 2022. The award is the result of a confidential, third-party survey of UCOR’s 2,000-member workforce by the Knoxville News Sentinel and the survey company Energage.

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.

NWTRB releases updated report on national HLW programs

July 26, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board has issued a report to the U.S. Congress and the secretary of energy examining the programs for managing spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in more than a dozen countries.

The report, Survey of National Programs for Managing High-Level Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel: 2022 Update, is an update of a survey report issued by the NWTRB in 2009, in which the board described 30 institutional and technical attributes of nuclear waste management programs in 13 countries. Those countries, which include the United States, France, China, and the United Kingdom, account for 80 percent of worldwide nuclear power–generating capacity.

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.

U.S. Supreme Court rules against Hanford workers’ comp law

June 23, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
An aerial view of Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant in 2021. (Photo: Bechtel National)

The U.S. Supreme Court on June 21 struck down a Washington state workers’ compensation law that was designed to make it easier for workers at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site to receive compensation benefits. The court, by unanimous decision, found that the law violates the U.S. Supremacy Clause and discriminates against the federal government and its contractors.

Located near Richland, Wash., the Hanford Site produced plutonium for the U.S. weapons program for more than 40 years and is currently undergoing a massive radiological cleanup mission involving around 10,000 workers.

Researchers to study how metal-corroding microbes may grow in Canadian repository

June 13, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Myrna Simpson conducts molecular biogeochemistry research at the University of Toronto Scarborough. (Photo: Ken Jones/University of Toronto)

Researchers at three Canadian universities are studying whether bentonite clay—used as an engineered barrier in Canada’s proposed deep geological repository—can support sulfide-producing microbes that can eat away at the canisters containing spent nuclear fuel.

Canada demonstrates engineered barrier system for SNF disposal

June 9, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
A modified forklift with a customized handling attachment is used to move spent fuel containers and their heavy bentonite clay housings. It can move autonomously or be manually operated remotely from outside the room, as needed. (Photo: NWMO)

Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has announced that it has successfully completed a full-scale demonstration of the engineered barriers that are designed to contain and isolate Canada’s spent nuclear fuel in a deep geological repository.

South Korea produces first dual-purpose used fuel cask for U.S. customer

June 8, 2022, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
SeAH Besteel’s Gusan plant in South Korea. (Image: SeAH Besteel)

Orano TN Americas and South Korean special steel maker SeAH Besteel last week announced the completion and delivery of the first dual-purpose used nuclear fuel dry storage cask manufactured for a U.S. utility by the Korean company.

Following Orano’s purchase order in September 2019, SeAH Besteel established a mass production system for Orano’s dual-purpose casks in compliance with U.S. and international nuclear standards. Orano TN Americas is a subsidiary of France’s Orano NPS.

IAEA team recommends improvements to Denmark’s radwaste program

May 13, 2022, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Denmark’s Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy. The two cylindrical buildings outermost on the peninsula contained the two nuclear reactors DR-2 and DR-3. (Photo: DTU)

An independent review of Denmark’s radioactive waste management program by an International Atomic Energy Agency team found that the country has developed a robust and well-functioning system, but that the national program needs further refinement if it is to be effectively implemented.

The government of Denmark requested the review of its waste management program to fulfil its European Union obligations requiring an independent review of EU member states’ national radioactive waste management programs. The Danish parliament adopted a resolution outlining the policy goals and activities of its national program for safely managing radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel in 2018.