WM Symposia announces STEM Champions Challenge

February 6, 2023, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Waste Management Symposia (WMS), which hosts the annual Waste Management Conference in Phoenix, Ariz., is launching a new effort along with Longenecker & Associates to support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education efforts to attract and build the next-generation nuclear workforce. The engineering, environmental, and nuclear services company Spectra Tech is joining the initiative by matching Longenecker & Associates' contributions to the program.

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.

DOE seeks input on analysis of alternatives for treating Hanford’s HLW

January 24, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy is asking for feedback on a new report analyzing potential options for preparing high-level radioactive waste for vitrification at the department’s Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. Vitrification is the process of treating radioactive waste by immobilizing it in glass.

The report, Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant High-Level Waste Treatment: Analysis of Alternatives, was commissioned in response to a 2018 determination by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that it was unlikely the DOE would meet its mandated deadlines for treating Hanford’s tank waste.

DOE increases consent-based siting FOA to $26 million

January 23, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy has increased the funding level for its community engagement on consent-based siting funding opportunity announcement (FOA) from $16 million to $26 million. The DOE first announced it was making funding available to communities interested in learning more about consent-based siting, management of spent nuclear fuel, and interim storage facility siting considerations last September. The FOA follows the DOE’s recent update to its consent-based process for siting an interim storage facility for SNF.

Cell leak delays startup of Idaho’s IWTU

January 19, 2023, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions

Ten days after beginning a heat-up process to prepare for radiological operations at Idaho’s Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU), operators noticed a small leak of nonradioactive, nonhazardous solids in a cell, resulting in the facility’s shutdown in late December, the Department of Energy announced on January 10.

Idaho’s IWTU prepares for radiological operations

January 6, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
The Integrated Waste Treatment Unit at the Idaho National Laboratory Site. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) said that the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU), the radioactive liquid waste treatment facility at the Idaho National Laboratory Site, began its final heat-up in December prior to initiating radiological operations, planned for early this year.

IWTU crews were to follow a prescribed incremental process as the facility transitions from simulant to sodium-bearing waste (SBW), according to EM.

What about the waste?

December 5, 2022, 7:01AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy
cpiercy@ans.org

It’s always the first question asked. So, what is your approach? You have options.

You could go the “Yucca Mountain is the law of the land” route. But you’ll soon run into an immutable political truth. Nevada’s early presidential caucuses make it highly unlikely that any candidate would ever take a favorable position on Yucca unless it enjoyed commensurate support in the state. Not convinced? Nevada Gov. Stephen Sisolak signed a bill in August that replaces their closed caucus system with a primary during the first week in February, thereby putting the state in competition with Iowa and New Hampshire to be the “first primary” of the 2024 election. Face it: While you weren’t looking, Nevada secured its consent rights over Yucca Mountain; it’s just written in a different part of the law.

You could also double down on reprocessing/recycling and argue that we need some sort of Manhattan Project. But that requires convincing Congress that it’s a good idea for the government to build large, first-of-a-kind, multibillion-dollar fuel cycle facilities, the economics of which will be based on the estimated price of uranium (or thorium?) some number of decades from now. Good luck with that. As much as a grand solution to the fuel cycle may appeal to our engineering instincts, the funding simply isn’t there—there are no checks left in Washington’s checkbook.

WIPP begins placing TRU waste in Panel 8

December 2, 2022, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Workers walk down a passageway in Panel 8 at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in November. (Photo: DOE)

Employees have begun emplacing defense-related transuranic (TRU) waste in Panel 8 of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico, the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced in November. TRU waste is permanently disposed of at WIPP in rooms mined in a Permian salt bed 2,150 feet below the surface.

Two reports agree: Diverse advanced reactor fuel cycles can succeed

November 23, 2022, 6:39AMNuclear News

Advanced reactors and small modular reactors with strikingly different coolants and sizes offer an array of different benefits, but when it comes to fuel cycle issues, including spent fuel and waste, they have a lot in common with conventional light water reactors. Two reports released within the last week—a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) consensus committee report two years in the making and a Department of Energy study released by Argonne National Laboratory—address the timely topic of advanced reactor fuel cycle issues. While the NASEM committee ventured to define research and infrastructure needs to support the entire nuclear power fuel cycle, inclusive of new technologies, for decades to come, the DOE report compares the front- and back-end fuel cycle metrics of three reactor designs (from NuScale Power, TerraPower, and X-energy) that have been selected for DOE cost-share–funded demonstrations within this decade. Together, these reports provide assurance that the fuel cycle needs of a fleet of new reactors can be met and point to near-term research and planning needs.

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.

“Abnormal condition” pauses Hanford melter heat-up

October 26, 2022, 3:25PMRadwaste Solutions
Workers install one of 18 startup heaters into Melter 1 of Hanford’s Low-Activity Waste Facility. (Photo: Bechtel National)

Heating of the first waste vitrification melter at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site was paused after operators identified an “abnormal condition with the startup heater power supplies,” the DOE’s Office of River Protection (ORP) said. Heat-up of the 300-ton melter, which will be used to vitrify Hanford’s low-level radioactive tank waste, was initiated on October 8.

Heat-up of Hanford’s first vit melter begins

October 12, 2022, 12:01PMRadwaste Solutions
A screenshot from a 3D animation showing the heat-up of Hanford’s melters. (Image: DOE)

Crews at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site, near Richland, Wash., have begun heating up the first of two 300-ton melters that will be used to vitrify mixed low-level radioactive and chemical tank waste. According to the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM), initiating and completing the heating of the melter is a critical step to commissioning Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP), which will treat and stabilize the site’s 56 million gallons of tank waste by immobilizing it in glass through the vitrification process.

DOE releases 5-year Hanford cleanup plan

October 11, 2022, 9:37AMRadwaste Solutions

By fiscal year 2027, Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) will ramp up toward producing 21 metric tons of low-level radioactive glass a day, according to the Department of Energy’s five-year plan for the site near Richland, Wash.

The plan, which was released on October 3 and opened for a 31-day public comment period, outlines what cleanup work will be initiated or completed at the Hanford Site during FYs 2023–2027.

Teardown commences on West Valley’s Main Plant

September 28, 2022, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Demolition of the MPPB, one of the last remaining major facilities at WVDP, is expected to be completed in about 30 months. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) said it has met one of its cleanup priorities for 2022 by beginning demolition of the Main Plant Process Building (MPPB) at the West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP) in New York. Located 35 miles south of Buffalo, the 150-acre WVDP site is home to the only commercial spent nuclear fuel reprocessing facility to operate in the United States.

DOE releases plan to guide cleanup mission, accelerate progress

September 27, 2022, 12:01PMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) released its EM Program Plan 2022, outlining a decision roadmap the cleanup program will use as a guide over the next two decades.

The new program plan, which was introduced by EM senior advisor William “Ike” White during the National Cleanup Workshop in Arlington, Va., on September 22, completes a trio of outward-facing planning documents, joining EM’s calendar year priorities list and its 10-year Strategic Vision.

DOE incentivizes interim storage with $16 million funding opportunity

September 26, 2022, 6:57AMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy has announced that it will make $16 million in funding available to communities interested in learning more about “consent-based siting, management of spent nuclear fuel, and interim storage facility siting considerations.” The funding opportunity follows the DOE’s recent update to its consent-based process for siting an interim storage facility for SNF.

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.