Waste Management

DOE prepares for transition of Savannah River Site management

November 29, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
DOE and NNSA personnel at a meeting discussing the plans for the upcoming SRS landlord transition. (Photo: DOE)

Personnel from the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management and the National Nuclear Security Administration recently gathered to discuss plans for the upcoming transfer of landlord responsibility for the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

WIPP prepares to bring new ventilation system on line

November 27, 2023, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Electrical circuits are tested during the commissioning of the new ventilation system at WIPP. (Photo: DOE)

Commissioning has begun on a new large-scale ventilation system at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.

The Safety Significant Confinement Ventilation System (SSCVS) is expected to increase underground airflow from 170,000 cubic feet per minute up to 540,000 cfm. The increased airflow will allow for simultaneous underground waste emplacement, mining, and ground control work. Ground control, including bolting, controls the movement of salt rock—known as salt creep—in the WIPP underground.

Letting go

November 22, 2023, 8:09AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Dear Nevada,

I hope you are doing well. We haven’t talked in a long time. I know you’ve moved on. But you know it’s been harder for me to do that.

Look, I’m sorry. I was forceful at times, and I know that made you feel trapped and caused you to question our relationship—pretty much from the beginning. But you also said some mean and untrue things about me. Your family still HATES me, which stinks, because we have a lot of history together.

Anyhow, just wanted to let you know that, while I might always hold out hope for a chance encounter with you that rekindles that old spark—and I will never part with our memory box—I am finally ready to move on to the next chapter of my life, and I understand that means letting go of you.

How is consent-based siting changing the prospects for used fuel management?

November 21, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News

Patrick O’Brien

As someone who grew up in a community with an operating nuclear plant—Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, in Plymouth, Mass., on Cape Cod Bay—I had the luxury of a more thorough education on what nuclear power was (and what it wasn’t) from an early age. Unfortunately, growing up in the 1980s and ’90s, many of my contemporaries were not as lucky; their education on nuclear power came from The Simpsons.

While it is a show that influenced a generation in many ways, its portrayal of the nuclear industry had no basis in reality. Nuclear workers are among the most professional and highly trained people in the world. The standards by which used fuel and waste are handled and stored are some of the strictest of any industry. I have found, after nearly a decade in the nuclear industry, that the first thing I must help the public, media, and even elected officials understand is that used nuclear fuel is not green goo in a barrel, but a solid pellet stored safely in robust dry storage casks. Providing the facts—the science and technology—is the key to helping people understand a complex industry. Doing so in simple terms can help demystify nuclear power.

Tank waste disposal

November 17, 2023, 3:01PMNuclear NewsChris O’Neil
The 2F Evaporator at SRS. (Photo: Savannah River Site Photography)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management is responsible for roughly 90 million gallons of radioactive liquid waste at Idaho National Laboratory, the Hanford Site in Washington state, and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. About 900,000 gallons of waste are stored at INL, 56 million gallons at Hanford, and roughly 36 million at SRS. A further 400,000 gallons of waste from various operations are being stored at the Oak Ridge Site in Tennessee.

What is happening in spent nuclear fuel research?

November 16, 2023, 9:49AMNuclear NewsSylvia Saltzstein and Emily Stein

Emily Stein

Sylvia Saltzstein

Over the past 50 years, the use of nuclear energy has avoided approximately 70 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions globally and 24 gigatons in the United States.1 Although carbon dioxide is not being released into the atmosphere when generating energy from nuclear, the waste this energy form does produce must be managed and permanently isolated away from people and the environment.

Deep geologic repository progress

November 10, 2023, 3:07PMNuclear NewsEmily Stein

Outside my office, there is a display case filled with rock samples from all over the world. It contains a disk of translucent, orange salt from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M.; a core of white-and-bronze gneiss from the site of the future deep geologic repository in Eurajoki, Finland; several angular chunks of fine-grained, gray claystone from the underground research laboratory at Bure, France; and a piece of coarse-grained granite from the underground research tunnel in Daejeon, South Korea.

Hanford pours first glass from Vit Plant melter

November 8, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Workers monitor the pouring of melter glass from a control room in Hanford’s LAW Facility. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management said crews at its Hanford Site in Washington state have started pouring the first molten glass from a waste vitrification melter into a stainless steel container at the site’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, also known as the Vit Plant.

The safe plan for Japan’s wastewater

November 7, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear NewsKen Petersen

Ken Petersen

There has been a lot of breathless coverage surrounding the release of mildly tritiated wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi site, generated in no small part by people, organizations, and even nations with a political axe to grind. But here are the facts:

On August 24, 2023, Fukushima Daiichi began its first release of tritium-containing water, following the Japanese government’s plans to meet all international guidelines. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which has established a permanent office at the plant, provided on-site observation, online monitoring, and an independent analysis of the release. (The IAEA will continue to do so for all future releases.) Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) reported that analyses of water samples taken from the sea within three kilometers of the plant showed tritium concentrations below 10 becquerels per liter, well below the 700 becquerels per liter set by the utility for suspending the release, and substantially below the drinking water quality standard of 10,000 becquerels per liter set by the World Health Organization.

Hanford upgrades its Effluent Treatment Facility

November 7, 2023, 9:31AMRadwaste Solutions
The Hanford Site’s ETF has been expanded. (Photo: DOE)

The Hanford Site’s Effluent Treatment Facility (ETF) has been expanded and will be able to handle almost 7 million more gallons of wastewater per year once the site’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) begins treating waste from large underground tanks.

EPRI joins NEA in joint advanced reactor waste project

October 31, 2023, 9:31AMRadwaste Solutions
NEA director general William Magwood (left) and EPRI senior vice president Neil Wilmshurst finalize EPRI support for the joint WISARD project. (Photo: NEA)

The Nuclear Energy Agency has announced a new collaboration with the Electric Power Research Institute on an upcoming project that will focus on waste management strategies for small modular reactors and advanced nuclear energy systems.

NRC approves emergency planning exemptions for defueled Indian Point

October 30, 2023, 9:52AMRadwaste Solutions
Indian Point nuclear power plant. (Photo: Daniel Case)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission hasgranted a request by Holtec Decommissioning International (HDI) to revise the emergency preparedness plan for the Indian Point Energy Center. Reflecting the reduced risk of a radiological emergency at a decommissioning power reactor site, the exemption removes the requirement that HDI maintain a 10-mile emergency planning zone around the plant.

U.S. requests review of circuit court’s ruling on Texas storage facility

October 27, 2023, 12:05PMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice are asking the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review its decision to vacate Interim Storage Partners’ license to build and operate a consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) for commercial spent nuclear fuel in Andrews County, Texas.

New LLW sorting facility opens in Ontario

October 26, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Representatives from OPG, Laurentis Energy Partners, and EnergySolutions Canada, as well as the mayor of Kincardine, Kenneth Craig, cut the ceremonial ribbon to officially open WCSR facility. (Photo: OPG)

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) subsidiary Laurentis Energy Partners has opened, in partnership with EnergySolutions Canada, a new 42,000-square-foot facility in Kincardine, Ontario, that will minimize waste associated with nuclear energy generation in the Canadian province, the company announced this week.

Progress touted in D&D of Idaho’s naval nuclear prototypes

October 25, 2023, 12:04PMRadwaste Solutions
Crews demolish one of two massive steam condensers at the Naval Reactors Facility’s A1W prototype reactor facility in Idaho. Click photo to enlarge (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management said that crews at the Idaho National Laboratory site are making “significant progress” decommissioning the Submarine 1st Generation Westinghouse (S1W) reactor, the prototype pressurized water reactor that supported the development of the USS Nautilus, the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine.

Holtec completes Indian Point dry storage campaign

October 24, 2023, 12:03PMRadwaste Solutions
The Indian Point fuel campaign crew at the plant ISFSI. (Photo: Holtec)

Holtec International marked a milestone last week in its decommissioning of Indian Point Energy Center with the transfer of all the plant’s spent nuclear fuel to dry storage. According to the company, the last fuel assembly from Indian Point-3 was placed into dry cask storage at 2:22 a.m. on October 14.


DOE seeks input on Hanford’s 5-year cleanup plan

October 16, 2023, 12:40PMRadwaste Solutions
Crews with Hanford contractor Central Plateau Cleanup Company break up concrete and remove contaminated soil near the former K Area reactors on the Hanford Site earlier this year. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy is seeking the public’s input on the Hanford Site’s 5-year plan, which outlines planned cleanup work either to be completed or initiated at the former plutonium production site near Richland, Wash. The DOE updates Hanford’s 5-year plan annually to reflect current progress and ongoing integrated planning for future work at the site.

New Mexico approves WIPP’s 10-year permit renewal

October 12, 2023, 9:31AMRadwaste Solutions
Mining crews view progress in an ongoing mining tunnel, known as a drift, at the WIPP facility in New Mexico. (Photo: DOE)

The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) signed a final order approving a 10-year permit renewal for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), the nation’s deep geologic repository for defense-related transuranic (TRU) waste.

Oak Ridge seeing returns on investment in new regulatory partnerships

October 11, 2023, 12:09PMRadwaste Solutions
Contaminated soil is loaded in containers for disposal at the Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management said a new regulatory partnership framework established in recent years by the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM), its contractor United Cleanup Oak Ridge (UCOR), the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) is ushering in a new chapter of accelerated cleanup at the department’s Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee.