Decontamination and Decommissioning

Final decommissioning rule expected by fall, NRC says

February 21, 2024, 12:04PMRadwaste Solutions

The staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has sent a final rule for decommissioning reactors to the commissioners for consideration. If approved, the new rulemaking would incorporate lessons learned from nuclear power plants that have recently transitioned to decontamination and decommissioning and would improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the regulatory framework.

Cold War nuclear artifact prompts police call

February 12, 2024, 10:31AMANS Nuclear Cafe

It’s not every day that local police departments find nuclear missiles in garages. But that’s what the bomb squad of the Bellevue, Washington, police department encountered on February 1 when they responded to a call. Fortunately, the missile turned out to be inert. It was a McDonnell Douglas AIR-2A Genie unguided air-to-air rocket (once known as an MB-1), which was designed to carry a 1.5 kiloton W25 nuclear warhead, but there was no warhead on the rusted rocket in the garage.

Largest of West Valley’s waste tanks removed during demolition

February 8, 2024, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Workers at the West Valley Demonstration Project prepare a large tank for loading after removing it from a liquid waste cell of the Main Plant Process Building. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management and its cleanup contractor at the West Valley Demonstration Project have removed the largest of nine tanks from a liquid waste cell as part of the ongoing demolition of the Main Plant Process Building, the office announced on February 6.

State: Holtec must study nonradioactive pollution in Pilgrim’s evaporation

February 2, 2024, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
The Pilgrim nuclear power plant. (Photo: Holtec)

The state of Massachusetts is looking to require Holtec, the owners of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant, to analyze water evaporation at the plant for potential air pollution as the unit is decommissioned.

At a hearing this week with a state Department of Environmental Protection panel, officials said that more study is needed on nonradioactive contaminants in about 1 million gallons of water that Holtec has proposed discharging into Cape Cod Bay.

DOE sets 2024 cleanup goals for Oak Ridge

January 10, 2024, 3:59PMRadwaste Solutions
Oak Ridge crews will begin demolition of the 325,000-sqaure-foot Alpha-2 facility this year, marking the first teardown of a former uranium enrichment facility at Y-12. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy announced that its Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) is moving ahead with a slate of projects this year that will alter the Tennessee site’s skyline, remove inventories of nuclear waste, and complete a major phase of cleanup.

NRC approves changes to Palisades’ emergency planning requirements

December 12, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The Palisades nuclear power plant. (Photo: Entergy)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has granted Holtec Decommissioning International’s request to revise the emergency preparedness plan for the Palisades nuclear power plant in Covert, Mich., to reflect the plant’s decommissioning status.

Orano completes removal of Crystal River-3 RPV

December 11, 2023, 6:58AMRadwaste Solutions

The first piece of Crystal River-3’s reactor pressure vessel is lifted from the reactor cavity. (Photo: Orano)

The cutting and conditioning of the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) and internals belonging to the pressurized water reactor at the Crystal River-3 nuclear power plant in Florida has been completed, the Orano Group has announced. Finished in under two years, removal of the RPV marks the conclusion of the plant’s dismantling and spent fuel management project, which began in 2021.

Crystal River-3 is being decommissioned by Advanced Decommissioning Partners (ADP), a joint venture of Orano and NorthStar Group Services. Duke Energy transferred the licenses for Crystal River-3 to ADP in October 2020 for accelerated decommissioning.

Optimized process: Orano’s Dismantling and Services teams carried out the cutting and conditioning of the reactor vessel and primary circuit components using a patented segmentation process called “optimized segmentation,” according to the company.

NRC to hold hybrid meeting on Crystal River-3 license termination

November 29, 2023, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
The Crystal River-3 nuclear power plant.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that it will hold a hybrid public meeting on December 7 to discuss the license termination process and to accept comments on the remaining cleanup activities under the license termination plan for the Crystal River-3 nuclear power plant in Crystal River, Fla.

NRC releases decommissioned Zion site for unrestricted use

November 9, 2023, 9:31AMRadwaste Solutions
The Zion nuclear plant site as it appeared earlier this year. (Photo: Tim Gregoire)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has released for “unrestricted use” most of the land on and around where the Zion nuclear power plant once operated in northeastern Illinois. This means that any residual radiation is below the NRC’s limits and there will be no further regulatory controls by the agency for that portion of the property.

Paradigm Shift: Monitoring Savannah River’s groundwater using artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques

November 1, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste SolutionsChris O’Neil
A close-up of the ALTEMIS monitoring device. (Photo: Brad Bohr/SRNL)

Researchers at Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL), in concert with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Florida International University, are leading the Advanced Long-Term Environmental Monitoring Systems (ALTEMIS) project to move groundwater cleanup from a reactive process to a proactive process, while also reducing the cost of long-term monitoring and accelerating site closure.

The remediation of Maywood

October 31, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste SolutionsJoAnne Castagna
USACE District Commander Mathew Luzzatto (right) is shown a map of the FUSRAP Maywood Superfund site in New Jersey in February 2023. (Photo: Nayelli Guerrero/USACE).

It is the 1940s in Maywood, N.J. A new residential community has sprouted up, and the homeowners want to beautify their front lawns, so they go to a nearby property to gather some fresh topsoil. Little did they know that they’re helping to plant the seeds for one of the largest and most high-profile environmental cleanup projects in the nation.

Sharing D&D Knowledge in a Competitive Market

October 27, 2023, 3:13PMRadwaste SolutionsTim Gregoire
Vermont Yankee’s segmented reactor vessel head is lowered into a custom-built package for transportation and disposal. (Photo: Orano)

Currently, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is overseeing 17 nuclear power plants that are undergoing active decommissioning. For 10 of those plants, the NRC licenses have been transferred, either through sale or temporary transfer, from the plant owner and operator to a third party, nonutility company for decommissioning. To be profitable, those companies are decommissioning the nuclear plants as expediently as they safely can, while still protecting workers and the environment, using proprietary techniques and processes.

USACE taps Aptim JV to decommission Alaska’s SM-1A reactor

October 18, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
The SM-1A reactor facility at Fort Greely, Alaska. (Photo: USACE)

Baton Rouge, La.-based Aptim Federal Services announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, has awarded the company a six-year, $95.5 million contract to decommission, dismantle, and dispose of the SM-1A nuclear power reactor at Fort Greely, Alaska.

The Shape of Water: Nuclear Divers Return to Sellafield’s Legacy Ponds

September 28, 2023, 3:38PMRadwaste Solutions
Josh Everett, a diver with UCC UK Ltd., enters bay No. 11 of Sellafield’s Pile Fuel Storage Pond in December 2022, the first time in over 60 years a diver has entered the legacy pond, used to store a variety of spent nuclear fuel types and wastes. During this commissioning nuclear dive, Everett’s underwater tasks included emergency diver extraction trial confirmation, radiation monitoring system verification, and radiation contact meter commissioning. (Photos courtesy of Sellafield Ltd.)

The last time a human entered the Pile Fuel Storage Pond at the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria, England, was in 1958, when records show a maintenance operator and health physics monitor carried out a dive into the newly constructed pond to repair a broken winch. At least that was true until December 2022, when Josh Everett, a diver from the U.K. specialist nuclear diving team Underwater Construction Corporation (UCC) UK Ltd., became the first person in more than 60 years to work in one of the most unique workplaces in the world.

The Ubiquity of PFAS: An Emerging Issue in Decommissioning

September 22, 2023, 3:08PMRadwaste SolutionsJay Peters, Nadia Glucksberg, and John Xiong

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), an anthropogenic class of several thousand chemicals made for use in products such as nonstick cookware, water-, grease-, and stain-resistant materials, surfactants, and fire suppression foams [1], are emerging as a complicating factor in nuclear decommissioning. These chemicals, which have been manufactured globally, including in the United States, have gained regulatory and public attention due to their persistence and ubiquity in the environment, ability to be detected at low parts-per-trillion levels, and health-based standards set at levels hundreds to thousands of times lower than more classic contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

DOE-EM–Sandia team survey Sellafield robotic systems

August 16, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The DOE-EM–Sandia team and Sellafield representatives pose with Spot Robot at the Sellafield Engineering and Maintenance Centre of Excellence. (Photo: DOE)

Robotics experts from Sandia National Laboratories and representatives from the Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management’s Technology Development Office recently visited the Sellafield nuclear site in England to discuss how robotics, artificial intelligence, and other emerging tools can be developed and used in nuclear cleanup operations.

Y-12’s Alpha-2 building prepped for demolition in early 2024

August 16, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
The Alpha-2 building at Y-12 in Oak Ridge is a former uranium enrichment facility that dates to the Manhattan Project era. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management said that crews have completed major deactivation efforts at the Alpha-2 building at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The former uranium enrichment facility is scheduled for demolition next year.

INL finishes waste pad removal project

August 2, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
Work crews use light construction equipment to remove the final pieces of asphalt from one of the pads at the TSA-RE at INL. (Photo: DOE)

The Idaho National Laboratory is moving closer toward closing its largest building—which, at more than 316,000 square feet, could comfortably house a modern U.S. aircraft carrier, according to the Department of Energy.

DOE awards DD&R contract for Ion Beam Facility removal

August 1, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management awarded a contract to Aptim Federal Services of Baton Rouge, La., to perform deactivation, decommissioning, and removal of the former Ion Beam Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

DOE-EM awards $5.87 billion Portsmouth D&D contract

July 17, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Portsmouth’s X-326 Process Building undergoes demolition in 2022. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management awarded a 10-year contract worth up to $5.87 billion to Southern Ohio Cleanup Company (SOCCo) of Aiken, S.C., for the decontamination and decommissioning of the DOE’s Portsmouth site in southern Ohio. SOCCo is a newly formed limited liability company comprising Amentum Environment and Energy, Fluor Federal Services, and Cavendish Nuclear (USA) Inc.