Idaho’s IWTU reaches 100 percent radiological operations

May 25, 2023, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
DOE-EM’s Greg Sosson (standing) views Integrated Waste Treatment activity during the facility’s first day of radiological operations. (Photo: DOE)

After initial runs using a mix of radiological waste and nonradioactive simulant, the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU) at the Idaho National Laboratory site has progressed to treating sodium-bearing waste entirely, the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (DOE-EM) announced on May 22.

DOE-EM outlines its cleanup goals for the coming decade

May 22, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management has released its Strategic Vision 2023–2033, a blueprint of the office’s anticipated cleanup achievements over the next decade. DOE-EM said the strategic vision is focused on the priorities of addressing radioactive liquid tank waste, demolishing contaminated buildings, remediating contaminated soil and groundwater, and safely managing and disposing of waste.

“The Strategic Vision 2023–2033 is intended to help us gaze further out to a place we want to be in the future,” DOE-EM senior advisor William “Ike” White said. “It sets EM on a course that will span a decade and inspire us all to achieve EM’s vital nuclear cleanup mission.”

U.S., Canada to cooperate on spent fuel management

May 18, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
The NWMO’s Laurie Swami (left) and the DOE’s Kathryn Huff sign a statement of intent to cooperate on used nuclear fuel management in Washington, D.C., on May 16. (Photo: CNW Group/NWMO)

The United States and Canada will cooperate on spent nuclear fuel management under a statement of intent (SOI) signed between the U.S. Department of Energy and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, the nonprofit responsible for the management of Canada’s commercial spent fuel.

INL waste treatment plant increases production

May 17, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
DOE-EM officials, IWTU employees, and others signed the first stainless steel canister prior to crews filling it with sodium-bearing waste and simulant. Once filled, that canister and 15 others were placed in a concrete vault for storage. (Photo: DOE)

Since the launch of operations just over a month ago, the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU) at Idaho National Laboratory has increased sodium-bearing waste treatment fivefold. This activity is a vital step in removing the remaining liquid waste from nearby underground tanks at the site and protecting the underlying Snake River Plain Aquifer.

Feds, state reach agreement in Hanford cleanup negotiations

May 4, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The Hanford Site’s B Complex area tank farm containing waste created during the production of plutonium at the site. (Photo: DOE)

After nearly three years of discussions and more than 60 mediation sessions, the Department of Energy, Washington State Department of Ecology, and the Environmental Protection Agency announced that they have reached a conceptual agreement on revising plans for managing millions of gallons of waste stored in tanks at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash.

WIPP drivers surpass 16 million safe miles

May 2, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
A CAST Specialty Transportation truck delivering TRU waste packages to WIPP. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) recently marked a milestone after its drivers exceeded 16 million safe miles without a serious accident or injury—equivalent to 33 round trips to the moon or more than 642 trips around the world, the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management announced.

DOE issues revised consent-based siting document

April 27, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy released an updated version of its consent-based siting process on April 25. The DOE will use the process to engage with willing communities to site one or more consolidated interim storage facilities for commercial spent nuclear fuel, reducing the number of locations where spent fuel is stored and easing the burden on U.S. taxpayers.

NRC to issue guidance on the early use of decommissioning trust funds

April 17, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it is considering new guidance on the use of decommissioning trust funds for the disposal of major radioactive components from still operating nuclear power plants. A draft guidance document is to be issued for public comment in late May, NRC staff said during a public online meeting on April 13.

Radiological operations of Idaho’s IWTU begin

April 12, 2023, 3:08PMRadwaste Solutions

IWTU operators prepare to introduce radiological sodium-bearing liquid waste into the facility Tuesday. (Photo: DOE)

More than a decade after construction was declared completed, Idaho’s long-delayed Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU) has begun radiological operations, the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced.

On Tuesday, crews at the Idaho National Laboratory Site began sending radioactive sodium-bearing liquid waste from nearby underground tanks to the IWTU for treatment. The 900,000 gallons of waste was generated during decontamination activities following spent nuclear fuel reprocessing that ended in 1992.

The IWTU uses steam reforming fluidized-bed reactor technology to convert liquid waste to a granular solid resembling coarse sand more suitable for long-term disposal.

Waste Management 2023: Hot topics for the DOE

March 27, 2023, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Panelists speak at the 2023 Waste Management Symposia “Hot Topics” session. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has made great progress in accomplishing its cleanup of legacy radioactive waste but has yet to tackle its most challenging tasks, including the treatment of liquid tank waste at the Hanford, Idaho, and Savannah River sites. That was the consensus of the DOE-EM officials who took part in a panel session of the 2023 Waste Management Symposia, held February 26–March 2 in Phoenix, Ariz.

Waste Management 2023: Innovation, transformation, and sustainability

March 20, 2023, 3:01PMRadwaste Solutions

Attracting more than 2,000 attendees, the 2023 Waste Management Symposia was held February 26–March 2 in Phoenix, Ariz. For many, this year’s conference was a return to business as usual, with a packed exhibit hall and well-attended technical session, as the upheaval brought about by the pandemic that began three years earlier seemed a thing of the pasts. Not that those who gathered in Phoenix threw any caution to the unseasonably cold and rainy winds that descended across Arizona this year.

Hanford’s DFLAW operations unlikely to begin in 2023

March 8, 2023, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions

Hanford manager Brian Vance discusses the DFLAW program during a panel session at the 2023 Waste Management Symposia. (Photo: DOE)

Hanford’s waste vitrification operations are unlikely to start by the Department of Energy’s year-end goal, said Brian Vance, manager of the DOE’s Office of River Protection and Richland Operations Office for the Hanford Site in Washington state. The DOE is working to meet its obligations to begin processing Hanford’s low-level radioactive tank waste as part of its Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program.

“The probability for 2023 is very low,” Vance said, regarding the department’s plan to begin vitrifying the tank waste. Vance made his remarks during a panel session of the 2023 Waste Management Symposia in Phoenix, Ariz., on February 28.

Concerning consent-based siting: An Interview with the DOE’s Kim Petry, Erica Bickford, and Natalia Saraeva

March 3, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

On December 1, 2021, the Department of Energy issued a request for information (RFI) asking for public feedback on using consent-based siting to identify sites for the interim storage of spent nuclear fuel. The department received more than 220 comments in response, and on September 15, 2022, the DOE released a report summarizing and analyzing those responses. That 57-page report, Consent-Based Siting: Request for Information Comment Summary and Analysis, will be followed by an updated consent-based siting process document.

The DOE’s consent-based siting initiative is being led through the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy. To learn more about that initiative and the consent-based siting process, Radwaste Solutions spoke with the DOE’s Kim Petry, acting associate deputy assistant secretary, Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition; Erica Bickford, acting office director, Integrated Waste Management; and Natalia Saraeva, team lead, Consent-Based Siting.

ECA report urges DOE to take action on radwaste disposal

February 27, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions

The Energy Communities Alliance (ECA), an organization of local communities near Department of Energy national defense sites, has released a new report urging the DOE to prioritize finding disposal pathways for the radioactive waste it is obligated to clean up.

According to the ECA, the DOE could potentially save hundreds of billions of dollars in cleanup costs by using its available tools and implementing the recommendations contained in the report, Disposal Drives Cleanup: Re-Energizing Momentum for Disposal Solutions for Radioactive Waste.

ANS recommends updates to repository standards, asks for feedback

February 17, 2023, 8:00AMANS News
Two workers walk down an underground passageway at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant transuranic waste repository in New Mexico. (Photo: DOE)

While still lacking a deep geological repository for the permanent disposal of its commercial used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste, the United States does have regulatory standards for geological nuclear waste disposal.

Having been written nearly 40 years ago, however, those standards are outmoded and lack transparency, according to a special committee of the American Nuclear Society, which has released draft recommendations on revising public health and safety standards for future geological repository projects in the United States.

Savannah River’s DWPF receives upgrades, exits outage

February 15, 2023, 9:40AMRadwaste Solutions
Savannah River’s DWPF has completed the conversion from formic acid to glycolic acid in the waste vitrification process. (Photo: DOE)

The Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF) at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina has resumed operations after a completing a processing improvement that the DOE said will enable safer operations and more efficient vitrification of radioactive waste.

NRC considers licensing an Idaho facility to handle LLW

February 10, 2023, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued an environmental assessment for Qal-Tek’s license application for a radioactive waste handling and temporary storage facility in Idaho. The NRC concluded that there would be no significant impacts to environmental resources from the proposed facility and subsequently issued a finding of no significant impact, notice of which was published in the February 6 Federal Register.

Some of Hanford’s tank waste to be disposed of off-site as LLW

February 9, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

As preparations continue for immobilizing millions of gallons of low-activity tank waste at the Hanford Site in Washington state through vitrification, the Department of Energy has issued two key decisions for the handling and disposing of vitrified low-activity waste (LAW) and associated secondary wastes.