Waste Management

IAEA team recommends improvements to Denmark’s radwaste program

May 13, 2022, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Denmark’s Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy. The two cylindrical buildings outermost on the peninsula contained the two nuclear reactors DR-2 and DR-3. (Photo: DTU)

An independent review of Denmark’s radioactive waste management program by an International Atomic Energy Agency team found that the country has developed a robust and well-functioning system, but that the national program needs further refinement if it is to be effectively implemented.

The government of Denmark requested the review of its waste management program to fulfil its European Union obligations requiring an independent review of EU member states’ national radioactive waste management programs. The Danish parliament adopted a resolution outlining the policy goals and activities of its national program for safely managing radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel in 2018.

Journalist: Nuclear waste management is key to nuclear renaissance

May 10, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

“The momentum toward a new era of nuclear energy is predicated in part on government and industry claims that new technological solutions to nuclear waste are forthcoming. But challenges remain in their realization at the necessary scale,” writes freelance journalist Jenny Johnson in the article “Nuclear renaissance hinges on solving the waste issue."

International workshop to evaluate geologic repository safety assessment software

April 25, 2022, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

Sandia National Laboratories engineers Emily Stein, left, and Paul Mariner discuss recent results from their Geologic Disposal Safety Assessment software framework.

Ten teams of scientists from across the globe, including teams from the United States, Canada, Germany, and Taiwan, are virtually comparing software tools developed to assess the safety performance of deep geologic repositories for nuclear waste. The virtual workshop, held this month, is being conducted by members of an international collaboration called Development of Coupled Models and their Validation against Experiments, or DECOVALEX.

“The DECOVALEX initiative creates an important framework for experts in repository sciences from around the world to test and improve simulation models that are important to assessing the safety of geologic disposal,” said Jens Birkholzer, chairman of the initiative and a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Web campaign advocates for nuclear waste solution

April 21, 2022, 3:08PMRadwaste Solutions

Waste management start-up company Deep Isolation has launched an online campaign to educate the public about nuclear waste and gain support for solving the issue to protect the environment, increase energy security, and remove a barrier to nuclear energy.

The website Solve Nuclear Waste aims to increase awareness about the need for permanent nuclear waste disposal to help secure a clean energy future. Visitors to the site can sign a petition that the company will share with elected officials and decision-makers to demonstrate that the public cares about the issue.

Canada moves closer to selecting spent fuel repository site

April 13, 2022, 7:11AMRadwaste Solutions
An NWMO geoscientist examines core samples pulled from rock in South Bruce, Ontario, as part of investigations of a potential deep geological repository. (Photo: NWMO)

Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has completed a deep borehole drilling program at the two sites in Ontario under investigation for potentially hosting a deep geological repository to hold the country’s spent nuclear fuel. The NWMO said that Canada’s top geoscientists are leading the studies, in which approximately eight kilometers of core samples were pulled from the bedrock in the Wabigoon-Ignace area and the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON)–South Bruce area.

WIPP: Abnormal event declared, no risk to workers or public

April 11, 2022, 3:02PMRadwaste Solutions
The Department of Energy's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, in New Mexico. (Photo: DOE)

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and Joint Information Center (JIC) were activated on April 9 following an abnormal event that occurred during routine waste handling at the Department of Energy’s WIPP repository for transuranic waste, near Carlsbad, N.M.

NRC to consolidate LLW rulemaking

April 11, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
An NRC diagram of a LLW waste disposal site.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will integrate two separate rulemaking activities concerning the disposal of low-level radioactive waste, issuing a “re-proposed” rule that consolidates updates to 10 CFR Part 61, “Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal,” and proposed changes to the requirements for the near-surface disposal of greater-than-Class C (GTCC) waste.

Radiological waste transportation & disposal: A decommissioning manager’s perspective

April 1, 2022, 12:00PMRadwaste SolutionsAndy Lombardo
Waste packages are loaded with contaminated soil during remediation work at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. (Photo: PermaFix)

Depending on the size and complexity of a decommissioning project, the transportation and disposal of radioactive waste will have an oversized impact on planning, schedule, and budget. The scope of decommissioning a site contaminated with radioactive material begins and ends with the proper and safe packaging of waste and subsequent transportation from the site to the final disposal location. Once all of the waste is gone from the site, the compliance exercise can be completed and the site released from controls (i.e., the radioactive materials license is terminated and the site is decommissioned).

BATS Part III: Carrying out phase 3 of the WIPP brine availability test in salt

March 25, 2022, 4:02PMRadwaste SolutionsMollie Rappe
Sandia National Laboratories researchers Melissa Mills, left, and Kristopher Kuhlman peer through a WIPP salt sample.

Last fall, scientists from Sandia, Los Alamos, and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories began the third phase of a years-long experiment to understand how salt and very salty water behave near hot nuclear waste containers in a salt-bed repository. Initiated in 2017, the Brine Availability Test in Salt (BATS) project is part of a spent nuclear fuel research campaign within the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE).

Consent-based siting has “potential to succeed,” webinar panelists say

March 24, 2022, 9:25AMANS News
A screenshot of the panelists for the ANS spent fuel management webinar.

The Department of Energy’s new consent-based process for siting an interim storage facility for the nation’s spent nuclear fuel faces many challenges, but it could be successful if correctly implemented by the department, according to the panelists of the American Nuclear Society’s webinar “Spent Nuclear Fuel Management: Wasting Away or Chance for Progress?” ANS President Steve Nesbit moderated the webinar, held on March 23.

UCOR earns 98 percent of fee for Oak Ridge work

March 24, 2022, 6:57AMRadwaste Solutions
UCOR workers remove waste from the Alpha-2 building at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy recently awarded $24.7 million to Oak Ridge cleanup contractor UCOR for its work at the Oak Ridge site in Tennessee from April 2021 through October 2021, amounting to 98 percent of the available fee for the evaluation period.

Challenges to Texas SNF facility filed in federal court

March 23, 2022, 7:09AMRadwaste Solutions

Several antinuclear groups are challenging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing of Interim Storage Partners’ (ISP) consolidated interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in Andrews, Texas, by filing briefs in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on March 18. The groups appealing the license include Beyond Nuclear, Don’t Waste Michigan (a coalition of seven environmental groups), and Sierra Club.

The NRC granted ISP a license in September 2021, authorizing the company to receive, possess, transfer, and store up to 5,000 metric tons of spent fuel and 231.3 metric tons of greater-than-Class C radioactive waste for 40 years. ISP plans to expand the facility in seven additional phases, up to a total capacity of 40,000 metric tons of fuel.

GAO report: WIPP projects continue to be at risk

March 17, 2022, 6:54AMRadwaste Solutions
Workers construct a new ventilation system's filter building last year at WIPP. (Photo: DOE)

Without a plan for addressing issues in completing construction projects at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico, the Department of Energy cannot ensure that further cost increases and schedule delays will not continue, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office. In particular, the GAO said, the DOE has not developed a corrective action plan to address root causes identified for the rising cost and the delay in building a new ventilation system at the transuranic waste repository.

Perma-Fix, Westinghouse to cooperate on U.K. waste treatment facility

March 15, 2022, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
Bulk Processing Unit at the Perma-Fix Northwest waste treatment facility. (Photo: Perma-Fix)

Westinghouse Electric Company and nuclear waste management company Perma-Fix Environmental Services plan to jointly develop a state-of-the-art advanced materials treatment facility in the United Kingdom. During the 2022 Waste Management Symposia, held last week in Phoenix, Ariz., the two companies signed a nonbinding agreement to cooperate on a facility that will provide low-level radioactive waste treatment services to the European market.

What did I do wrong? Or, “What did we do wrong?”

March 9, 2022, 3:01PMANS NewsSteven P. Nesbit

Steven P. Nesbit

Have you ever been punished for something you didn’t do? It happens to most of us on occasion while growing up, especially if we have siblings. It’s not the end of the world, and it teaches a valuable lesson: Life is not fair. Nevertheless, when it happens, it really rankles you.

The “issue” of nuclear waste provides me with instant recall of those unpleasant childhood memories. Commercial nuclear power plants have been managing low-level waste and used nuclear fuel safely and efficiently since the beginning of the nuclear enterprise. Industry is adept at minimizing, packaging, transporting, and disposing of LLW. Used fuel is stored safely and securely at reactor sites, awaiting disposal.

Forty years ago, nuclear power plant operators entered into contracts with the federal government. The deal was simple. The operators would pay the U.S. government a lot of money, and the government would pick up the relatively small amount of used fuel and dispose of it in a geologic repository, beginning in 1998. The money changed hands, but the used fuel never did.

Nuclear tech hub: Co-siting cutting-edge nuclear facilities with waste management sites

March 4, 2022, 3:09PMRadwaste SolutionsCharles Forsberg, Jacopo Buongiorno, and Eric Ingersoll

The organization of the commercial fuel cycle with the geographical separation of waste disposal facilities from other nuclear facilities is a historical artifact. There are large economic and institutional incentives to collocate many fuel cycle facilities with the repository. Similarly, there are large economic and institutional incentives to collocate proposed fission battery factories and nuclear hydrogen/synthetic fuel (synfuel) gigafactories with other waste management facilities (used fuel storage, low-level waste disposal, etc.) to create nuclear technology hubs that create economic savings, generate jobs and tax revenue, and simplify waste management.

A look back at the Blue Ribbon Commission

March 3, 2022, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Spent fuel in dry storage at the decommissioned Zion site in Illinois awaits a permanent home. (Photo: EnergySolutions)

The deadline for submitting comments on the Department of Energy’s request for information on using a consent-based approach to siting federal facilities for the interim storage of spent nuclear fuel is Friday, March 4.

Last of spent fuel from INL’s ATR moved to dry storage

March 3, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Spent nuclear fuel handlers move the last ATR fuel to an awaiting cask in the CPP-666 basin. (Photo: DOE)

The last spent nuclear fuel elements from Idaho National Laboratory’s Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) have been retrieved from a water-filled storage basin and transferred to a nearby dry-storage facility in accordance with a 1995 agreement with the State of Idaho, the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced this week.

Oak Ridge contractor to resume U-233 processing campaign in March

February 28, 2022, 3:04PMRadwaste Solutions
A screen shot of a YouTube video of the DOE’s U-233 Initial Processing Campaign at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Isotek, the Department of Energy contractor responsible for overseeing the inventory of uranium-233 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and preparing it for removal from the site, said it plans to resume preparations for processing high-dose U-233 in March. The company was forced to suspend its operational readiness review of the Initial Processing Campaign at Oak Ridge in January due to issues related to COVID-19, as well as difficulties operating in colder temperatures.

From Canada with love: Repatriating HEU to the U.S.

February 25, 2022, 2:59PMRadwaste SolutionsGlen Jackson and Jeffrey Galan
State troopers and first responders at a TRM roadshow stop in Virginia. The display LWT cask can be seen at the far right in its shipping container. (Photos courtesy of DOE/NNSA)

In March 2012, during the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea, the governments of Canada and the United States committed to work cooperatively to repatriate approximately 6,000 gallons of high-enriched uranyl nitrate liquid (HEUNL) target residue material (TRM) stored at the Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The announcement was part of a larger agreement between the two countries to reduce proliferation risks by consolidating high-enriched uranium at a smaller number of secure locations.