Waste Management


Solar-powered microblowers remove SRS soil contaminants

April 15, 2021, 3:07PMRadwaste Solutions
SRNS engineers (from left) Will Jolin, John Bradley, and Joao Cardoso-Neto discuss a plan to move and repurpose equipment used at 19 soil cleanup sites. Photo: DOE

A project to passively remove nonradioactive contaminants from the soil and groundwater at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina is coming to an end, as workers prepare to remove solar-power “plugs” from 19 soil remediation locations at the site.

OIG: Risk-informed concept can be better applied to SNF licensing

April 15, 2021, 12:08PMRadwaste Solutions
The NRC-licensed independent spent fuel storage installation at Zion, Ill.

How the Nuclear Regulatory Commission collects information in the licensing of spent nuclear fuel can be improved by a better understanding of the concept of risk-informed decision making, according to a report, Audit of the NRC’s Use of Requests for Additional Information in Licensing Processes for Spent Nuclear Fuel (OIG-21-A-08), by the agency’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).

Next decade of DOE cleanup outlined in updated strategic vision

April 15, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
A radiological worker surveys the inside of a TRUPACT-II containment lid during waste handling operations at WIPP. Photo: DOE

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has released its Strategic Vision 2021-2031 (hereinafter referred to as the 2021 Strategic Vision), a blueprint to the cleanup program’s anticipated accomplishments over the next decade. The new strategic vision updates EM’s previous report, A Time of Transition and Transformation: EM Vision 2020-2030, released in March of last year.

Adding context to Japan’s (correct) decision to dispose of Fukushima wastewater

April 13, 2021, 6:28AMNuclear News
A current picture of the Fukushima nuclear power station with the more than 1,000 water storage tanks on site. Photo: Courtesy of TEPCO.

The Japanese government will soon announce the decision to dispose of stockpiled Fukushima wastewater into the Pacific Ocean, according to an AP News story published last Friday. The decision is years in the making and follows the guidelines from a panel of government-appointed experts named the Subcommittee on Handling of the ALPS-Treated Water (ALPS Subcommittee).

Savannah River works to speed up shipments of surplus Pu to WIPP

April 9, 2021, 2:59PMRadwaste Solutions
Crews move equipment used to inspect drums holding diluted plutonium into a storage site in K Area at the Savannah River Site. Photo: DOE

Workers at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina recently finished transferring equipment to the site’s K Area in preparation of shipping downblended plutonium to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico for disposal. The plutonium is part of the 34 metric tons of surplus plutonium the National Nuclear Security Administration plans to ship to WIPP under the “dilute and dispose” option the department adopted following the cancellation of the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility project.

Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth awarded $690 million contract extension

April 8, 2021, 6:59AMRadwaste Solutions
Workers remove asbestos siding panels from a Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant building. Photo: Business Wire

Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth, a joint venture of Fluor and BWX Technologies, along with engineering company Jacob, have received a contract extension valued at up to $690 million, including options, from the Department of Energy. The contract, announced April 6, is for environmental management work at the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant near Piketon, Ohio.

Stanford scholars: Breaking U.S. nuclear waste stalemate could be key to Biden’s climate goals

April 7, 2021, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Dry cask storage at the closed San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in Southern California. Photo: Southern California Edison

Saying they are cautiously optimistic that the Biden administration can change the U.S. trajectory on nuclear waste, some Stanford University experts have offered their recommendations on how it can be done in a recent Stanford news posting.

Rep. Newhouse urges DOE to uphold HLW interpretation

April 7, 2021, 7:02AMRadwaste Solutions

Newhouse

In a letter written to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R., Wash.) has urged the Department of Energy to maintain its 2019 interpretation of high-level radioactive waste. Newhouse was responding to a letter sent to Granholm by several special interest groups and state leaders asking that the DOE immediately rescind the HLW interpretation.

That special interests/state leaders letter, sent on February 26—one day after Granholm was confirmed as energy secretary—was signed by Washington attorney general Bob Ferguson, Washington State director of ecology Laura Watson, and Phil Rigdon of the Yakama Nation, along with representatives from Natural Resources Defense Council, Hanford Challenge, and Columbia Riverkeeper. The letter said, in part, “We look forward to working with you on the Department’s cleanup of legacy nuclear waste at sites such as the Hanford Nuclear Reservation located near Tri-Cities, Washington. Washington houses 60 percent of the nation’s High-Level Radioactive Waste with 56 million gallons stored in 177 underground storage tanks at Hanford."

Hanford’s new wastewater filter system to increase efficiency, lower costs

April 2, 2021, 11:59AMRadwaste Solutions
A front-and-back illustration of the new Hanford ETF filter system, which is intended to eliminate the need to shut down operations every 12 hours to replace filters during wastewater processing. Image: DOE

A new wastewater filter system being installed at Hanford’s Effluent Treatment Facility (ETF) is expected to increase waste processing throughput, improve efficiency, and save money as the site in southeastern Washington gears up to treat tank waste, the Department of Energy announced.

Sparks from Los Alamos waste drum prompt WIPP evacuation

April 2, 2021, 6:56AMRadwaste Solutions

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant's underground repository in New Mexico was evacuated for 13 days in March following an incident at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where a drum being packed with transuranic waste began emitting sparks.

As reported on March 31 by the Carlsbad Current Argus, an evacuation order was given on March 5 after WIPP was informed by the National Nuclear Security Administration that similar at-risk drums from LANL were emplaced for disposal in the repository. The order was lifted on March 18 after it was determined that the drums were compliant with WIPP’s waste acceptance criteria and did not pose a risk.

LANL cleanup modifies fieldwork to protect threatened species

March 31, 2021, 3:01PMRadwaste Solutions
The Mexican spotted owl, which finds a home in northern New Mexico’s canyons and forests, is a threatened species that the DOE strives to protect. Photo: Don Ulrich, taken in Flagstaff, Ariz.

To protect a treasured ecological species of northern New Mexico, the Los Alamos Field Office (EM-LA) of the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management and its contractor N3B this month began their annual task of modifying legacy waste cleanup activities at Los Alamos National Laboratory ahead of the Mexican spotted owl breeding season.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) listed the owl as a threatened species in 1993, when population numbers were decreasing drastically due to the loss, degradation, and fragmentation of their habitat.

New Mexico sues NRC over used fuel storage site licensing

March 31, 2021, 9:31AMRadwaste Solutions
Holtec’s proposed HI-STORE interim storage facility. Image: Holtec

New Mexico attorney general Hector Balderas has filed suit against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the United States, seeking to stop Holtec International’s application to build and operate its HI-STORE consolidated interim storage facility for used nuclear fuel in the state. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court of New Mexico on March 29, seeks a declaratory judgment that the NRC is acting beyond the scope of its authority and an injunction preventing the licensing from moving forward.

NRC pushes back safety review of Holtec’s interim storage site

March 30, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has delayed the release of a safety report for Holtec International’s HI-STORE consolidated interim storage facility proposed for New Mexico, claiming it needs additional information to complete its review of the license application. The NRC previously said it would complete its safety review and publish a safety evaluation report for the spent fuel storage facility by May.

Canada on track to select repository site by 2023, NWMO says

March 30, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

Despite the challenges of the past year, Canada is on track to select a deep geologic repository site for the country’s used nuclear fuel by 2023, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization said in its annual report to the Canadian government. In conformance with Canada’s Nuclear Fuel Waste Act, the report, Guided by science. Grounded in knowledge. Committed to partnership, was submitted to Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan on March 25.

Advisory panel formed for TMI-2 decommissioning

March 25, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
The Three Mile Island nuclear generating station in 2010.

A community advisory board has been formed for the decommissioning of Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, according to a March 23 report by StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration of National Public Radio member stations. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved in December the transfer of TMI-2 and its license to TMI-2 Solutions for decommissioning. TMI-2 Solutions is a subsidiary of EnergySolutions.

According to the report, the TMI-2 Community Advisory Panel (CAP) is made up of 15 people who represent the plant and its neighbors, including townships, school districts, first responders, nuclear planners, and state historians. The group is being led by Londonderry Township manager Steve Letavic.

TMI-2 Solutions said that it will provide quarterly decommissioning updates to the TMI-2 CAP. As a volunteer non-regulatory organization, the CAP will provide community feedback to TMI-2 Solutions, including any issues or concerns related to TMI-2 decommissioning activities.

Savannah River marks 25 years of operations for processing plant

March 24, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Savannah River’s DWPF has been pouring high-level waste canisters for a quarter of a century. Photo: DOE

The month of March marked the 25th year of radiological operations for the Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF) at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina. Radiological operations at DWPF, which is used to treat Savannah River’s high-level radioactive tank waste, began on March 12, 1996, with the first canister of vitrified waste poured on April 29 that year.

To date, more than 4,200 stainless steel canisters of vitrified waste have been poured at DWPF, according to the DOE.

The only operating waste vitrification plant in the nation, DWPF is operated by Savannah River Remediation, the DOE’s liquid waste contractor at the site. According to the DOE, DWPF operations are expected to continue for approximately 15 more years, and about 4,000 more canisters are scheduled to be produced. The DOE expects to begin hot operations at a second waste vitrification plant later this year at its Idaho National Laboratory site.

Walls going up for new disposal unit at Savannah River Site

March 23, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The first wall section of Saltstone Disposal Unit 8 is being constructed at the Savannah River Site. Source: DOE

The first wall section of Saltstone Disposal Unit 8 (SDU 8) at the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site in South Carolina was installed earlier this month.

SDU 8 will stand 43 feet tall and 375 feet in diameter, and have a 33-million-gallon capacity, just like two SDUs built recently at the site. The 25 wall sections of SDU 8 are being constructed using high-strength, reinforced concrete and will be wrapped with seven layers of more than 300 miles of steel cable for added strength.

The flooring of SDU 8 is more than halfway complete. The concrete floor sits on top of a multilayer foundation: a geosynthetic clay liner and high-density plastic liner sandwiched between two concrete layers called “mud mats.” The floor is being completed in 14 sections.

The disposal units are built to safely and permanently contain decontaminated salt solution processed at Savannah River, the DOE reported on March 9.

Holtec loads its 1,500th spent fuel canister at Callaway

March 18, 2021, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

Holtec’s 1,500th canister is positioned for placement into the HI-STORM UMAX system at Ameren Missouri’s Callaway Energy Center. Photo: Holtec

Holtec International said that it successfully loaded its 1,500th spent fuel canister last week as part of the ongoing dry storage campaign at Ameren Missouri’s Callaway Energy Center. Holtec’s HI-STORM UMAX subterranean dry storage system has been in service at Callaway since 2015. The MPC-37 multipurpose canister is used to place 37 pressurized water reactor spent fuel assemblies into each HI-STORM UMAX vertical ventilated module.

“There has been a strong collaboration between our teams, and I truly appreciate the strong focus on doing the work safely, correctly, and to the highest standards of excellence,” said Fadi Diya, senior vice president and chief nuclear officer of Ameren Missouri, in a March 17 announcement.

“Just as we shared the milestone in 2015 of deploying the world’s first subterranean dry storage system under a general license, we are proud to share this milestone with Ameren,” said Pierre Oneid, Holtec’s senior vice president and chief nuclear officer.

Southern California Edison pushes to get SONGS’s spent fuel moved off-site

March 16, 2021, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

Southern California Edison has released a three-volume set of plans supporting the off-site relocation of the spent nuclear fuel currently stored at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. According to SCE, the release of the Action Plan, the Strategic Plan, and the Conceptual Transportation Plan constitutes a significant milestone in a process that began with the 2017 settlement regarding the coastal development permit issued for San Onofre’s expanded spent fuel storage installation.

At the same time, in an effort to urge the federal government to find a permanent solution to the nation’s inventory of commercial spent fuel, SCE and the counties of Orange and San Diego announced on March 15 the formation of a stakeholder coalition, Action for Spent Fuel Solutions Now.

“SCE and our partners and stakeholders have a genuine opportunity to bring people together with a shared interest to prepare and advocate for the relocation of the spent fuel away from the coast,” said Kevin Payne, SCE’s president and chief executive officer. “It is clear that to make tangible progress on this issue, the federal government must act. Rather than wait for this to happen, we are going to be a catalyst for change.”

Information about the coalition, including how to join, is available on its website.

Demolition of High Flux Beam Reactor exhaust stack completed

March 16, 2021, 12:04PMNuclear News

Workers use the MANTIS to demolish the High Flux Beam Reactor's exhaust stack, a prominent part of the Brookhaven National Laboratory. Source: DOE EM

Work crews have demolished the High Flux Beam Reactor (HFBR) exhaust stack at Brookhaven National Laboratory, on Long Island, N.Y., the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) reported last week.

The 320-foot-tall red-and-white stack was decommissioned and demolished under the direction of the DOE, with oversight by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Demolition work: Removal of the stack started in early January using a concrete chimney demolition system called the MANTIS. Work crews dismantled the stack down to its base, about 36 feet above ground, before fully demolishing it in late February.

The next steps for the project are the cleanup of soils, the removal of the below-ground stack infrastructure, and verification that cleanup goals have been met. The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education will conduct independent verification of the stack cleanup, according to the DOE.

The first rail shipment of the stack’s debris to off-site disposal will involve 65 intermodal waste containers loaded onto a 10-railcar train. About 45 additional containers are expected to be shipped as part of the second and final waste shipment.