Waste Management

DOE receives CD-0 approval for interim SNF storage facility

May 10, 2024, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy has received initial approval, known as “Critical Decision-0” (CD-0), for siting a federal consolidated interim storage facility for commercial spent nuclear fuel. Paul Murray, deputy assistant secretary of energy within the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, confirmed to Nuclear Newswire that the DOE received CD-0 approval on May 6.

Argonne to investigate Pu chemistry to aid Hanford cleanup

May 7, 2024, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, also known as the Vit Plant. (Photo: Bechtel National)

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory are investigating the details of plutonium chemistry with the goal of aiding the cleanup of the Hanford Site in Washington state. For more than 40 years, reactors located at Hanford produced plutonium for America’s defense program, resulting in millions of gallons of liquid radioactive and chemical waste.

Retrieval of nuclear waste canisters from a borehole

May 3, 2024, 9:31AMRadwaste SolutionsRod Baltzer

Borehole disposal of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high-level waste (HLW) uses off-the-shelf directional drilling technology developed and commercialized by the oil and gas sectors. It is a technology that has been gaining traction in recent years in the nuclear industry. Disposal can be done in one or more boreholes (including an array) drilled into suitable sedimentary, igneous, or metamorphic host rocks. Waste is encapsulated in specialized corrosion-resistant canisters, which are placed end to end in disposal sections of relatively small-diameter boreholes that have been cased and fluid-filled. After emplacement, the vertical access hole is plugged and backfilled as an engineered barrier.

NWTRB to hold public meeting on SNF disposal and corrosion

May 1, 2024, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, an independent federal agency that evaluates the Department of Energy’s efforts to manage and dispose of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste, will hold a two-day public meeting May 21–22 to review information on the DOE’s research and development activities related to the disposal of SNF and HLW in crystalline host rocks and on the corrosion of commercial SNF after disposal.

Feds, state agree on deadlines for treating Hanford’s tank waste

May 1, 2024, 7:05AMRadwaste Solutions
An aerial view of the Hanford Site’s 200 Area and the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, also known as the Vit Plant. (Photo: DOE)

The U.S. Department of Energy, Washington State Department of Ecology, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have reached an agreement on revised plans for managing millions of gallons of radioactive and chemical liquid waste stored in 177 underground tanks at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash.

Release of Fukushima’s treated water going as planned, IAEA says

April 30, 2024, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Data from Fukushima ALPS-treated water discharge. (Image: IAEA)

An International Atomic Energy Agency task force has confirmed that the discharge of treated water from Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is progressing in accordance with the plan approved by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority.

NWMO to select Canadian repository site this year

April 26, 2024, 12:03PMRadwaste Solutions
An illustration of a planned deep geologic repository for Canada’s spent nuclear fuel. (Image: NWMO)

Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization, a not-for-profit organization responsible for the long-term management of the country’s intermediate- and high-level radioactive waste, is set to select a site for a deep geologic repository by the end of the year.

College students help develop waste-measuring device at Hanford

April 25, 2024, 3:05PMRadwaste Solutions

A partnership between Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) and Washington State University has resulted in the development of a device to measure radioactive and chemical tank waste at the Hanford Site. WRPS is the contractor at Hanford for the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management.

WIPP improves utility shaft safety, begins infrastructure project

April 25, 2024, 7:02AMRadwaste Solutions
A view of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico. (Photo: DOE)

Harrison Western Shaft Sinkers (HWSS), the company drilling a new utility shaft at the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico, has retained a safety culture expert following a near-miss accident in the shaft late last year. The safety expert will conduct monthly facilitated discussions with crews working on the shaft to reinforce expectations for identifying concerns regarding unsafe circumstances, according to a recent report by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB).

Argonne opens registration for D&D training course

April 23, 2024, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

Registration is open for Argonne National Laboratory’s Facility Decommissioning Training Course, a four-day instruction designed for those responsible for the decontamination and decommissioning of nuclear facilities and who are looking to understand the full breadth and depth of the D&D processes.

The next session will be held July 16–19 in Santa Fe, N.M. Information on the course and how to register can be found here.

Glass strategy: Hanford’s enhanced waste glass program

April 19, 2024, 3:05PMRadwaste SolutionsAlbert A. Kruger

The mission of the Department of Energy’s Office of River Protection (ORP) is to complete the safe cleanup of waste resulting from decades of nuclear weapons development. One of the most technologically challenging responsibilities is the safe disposition of approximately 56 million gallons of radioactive waste historically stored in 177 tanks at the Hanford Site in Washington state.

ORP has a clear incentive to reduce the overall mission duration and cost. One pathway is to develop and deploy innovative technical solutions that can advance baseline flow sheets toward higher efficiency operations while reducing identified risks without compromising safety. Vitrification is the baseline process that will convert both high-level and low-level radioactive waste at Hanford into a stable glass waste form for long-term storage and disposal.

Although vitrification is a mature technology, there are key areas where technology can further reduce operational risks, advance baseline processes to maximize waste throughput, and provide the underpinning to enhance operational flexibility; all steps in reducing mission duration and cost.

DOE issues final RFQ for WIPP clean energy initiative

April 19, 2024, 12:01PMRadwaste Solutions
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, near Carlsbad, N.M. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management has issued a request for qualifications for interested parties and prospective offerors looking to enter into a realty agreement for carbon-pollution-free electricity (CFE) projects at the department’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant site in southeastern New Mexico.

Bacteria found to reduce uranium mobility in clay

April 18, 2024, 7:04AMRadwaste Solutions
An artistic representation of a Desulfosporosinus cell with immobilized uranium on the surface. (Image: B. Schröder/HZDR)

Researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) research laboratory in Germany have investigated a microorganism capable of transforming water-soluble hexavalent uranium [U(VI)] to the less-mobile tetravalent uranium [U(IV)]. The researchers found that the sulfate-reducing bacterium Desulfosporosinus hippei, a relative of naturally occurring microorganisms present in clay rock and bentonite, showed a relatively fast removal of uranium from clay pore water.

Hanford brings second Vit Plant melter on line

April 15, 2024, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Vit Plant crews begin adding frit into Hanford’s second melter. (Photo: Bechtel National)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management recently announced that crews at the Hanford Site’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, also known as the Vit Plant, recently brought the second of two 300-ton melters up to the operating temperature of 2,100°F.

The Watchful Guardian: Argonne’s ARG-US remote monitoring technologies

April 12, 2024, 3:07PMRadwaste SolutionsKevin A. Brown and Yung Liu
The DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Ill. (Photo: DOE)

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory are developing and deploying ARG-US (from the Greek Argus, meaning “Watchful Guardian”) remote monitoring systems technologies to enhance the safety, security, and safeguards (3S) of packages of nuclear and other radioactive material during storage, transportation, and disposal.

Taking a train to Texas

April 11, 2024, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
The first major shipment of depleted uranium oxide for disposal departs the DOE’s Paducah Site in Kentucky in early 2023 for disposal at the WCS facility in Texas.

Last year in late August, 120 storage cylinders of depleted uranium oxide (DUOx) safely arrived by rail in West Texas, having been shipped from the Department of Energy’s Portsmouth Site in Ohio. It was the first such shipment of the stable crystalline powder from the Portsmouth Site and was another milestone in the DOE Office of Environmental Management’s (EM) efforts to ship DUOx for off-site disposal.

Nonproliferation proponents call on Biden to oppose SHINE's proposed recycling plant

April 8, 2024, 3:01PMRadwaste Solutions

A group of 29 nonproliferation supporters sent a letter to President Biden asking that he withhold federal support for a proposed pilot plant for recycling spent nuclear fuel to be built by the Wisconsin-based fusion tech company SHINE Technologies. The experts further asked that Biden “discourage” the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from licensing the plant, claiming it would extract enough weapons-grade plutonium to build 100 atomic bombs a year.

House E&C subcommittee to hold hearing on spent fuel management

April 8, 2024, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions

The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced a public hearing on improving the U.S. management of spent nuclear fuel. The hearing, titled “American Nuclear Energy Expansion: Spent Fuel Policy and Innovation,” will be held on April 10 by the E&C Energy, Climate, and Grid Security Subcommittee.

The hearing will be livestreamed on the E&C Committee website.

Hanford lab upgrades for hot work and waste treatment

April 5, 2024, 7:01AMUpdated April 5, 2024, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Upgrades are under way at the Hanford Site's 222-S Laboratory, including replacing the Cold War-era windows in the labs hot cells. Photo: DOE)

Upgrades are underway at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site to prepare its 222-S Laboratory to treat tank waste under the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program.