Waste Management

Canada adds one year to its repository site selection process

August 17, 2022, 6:59AMRadwaste Solutions
Ontario’s South Bruce area is being considered as a potential host site for a spent fuel repository. (Photo: NWMO)

Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is shifting the timing for selecting a preferred site for a spent nuclear fuel repository to the fall of 2024, a full year later than previously planned. The NWMO, a nonprofit organization tasked with the safe, long-term management of Canada’s spent fuel in a deep geological repository, said the delay is the result of several provincial lockdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hanford prepares to empty waste from single-shell tank

August 15, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Hanford workers will soon begin retrieving about 373,000 gallons of waste from Tank AX-101, shown here in an image from an inspection video shot. (Photo: DOE)

Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) is preparing to retrieve waste from Tank AX-101 at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. WRPS is the tank operations contractor at Hanford.

Deep Isolation to license its waste disposal technology to Amentum

August 11, 2022, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Schematic of a deep horizontal borehole repository for nuclear waste. (Image: Deep Isolation)

Deep Isolation announced that it has signed a memorandum of agreement with engineering services company Amentum to further the commercialization of Deep Isolation’s nuclear waste storage and disposal technology around the world. The initial targets for joint work include locations in Europe and the Pacific that represent a combined market for geologic disposal of spent fuel and high-level waste worth more than $30 billion, the company said.

Atomic Testing Museum opens new exhibit highlighting DOE cleanup work

August 4, 2022, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
A contamination suit provided by the EM Nevada Program is on display in the new exhibit at the National Atomic Testing Museum. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) celebrated the opening of a new exhibit at the National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas during a ceremony on August 2.

Created through a partnership between EM and the museum, the permanent exhibit, “Beyond the Manhattan Project: Cleaning up the Legacy of America’s Nuclear Defense and Research Missions,” offers a visual display of EM’s critical work to clean up sites across the country impacted by five decades of nuclear weapons production and government-sponsored nuclear energy research.


DOE’s legal authority to sell depleted uranium uncertain, GAO says

August 1, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
A DUF6 storage cylinder is moved at the Portsmouth DUF6 conversion facility. (Photo: DOE)

The Government Accountability Office is recommending that Congress clarify the Department of Energy’s legal authority to sell depleted uranium hexafluoride (DUF6) left over from uranium enrichment operations at the department’s Portsmouth Site in Ohio and the Paducah Site in Kentucky.

Savannah River rebuilds its liquid waste equipment

July 29, 2022, 1:11PMRadwaste Solutions
A worker replaces a manipulator arm at the Savannah River’s SWPF. (Photo: DOE)

Savannah River Mission Completion (SRMC), the radioactive liquid waste contractor at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site, is optimizing some equipment maintenance at the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF). The facility traditionally uses centrifugal contactors in the solvent extraction process, and its laboratory uses manipulators to handle process samples and equipment within its radioactive cell. The equipment requires periodic maintenance and rebuilding.

NWTRB releases updated report on national HLW programs

July 26, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board has issued a report to the U.S. Congress and the secretary of energy examining the programs for managing spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in more than a dozen countries.

The report, Survey of National Programs for Managing High-Level Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel: 2022 Update, is an update of a survey report issued by the NWTRB in 2009, in which the board described 30 institutional and technical attributes of nuclear waste management programs in 13 countries. Those countries, which include the United States, France, China, and the United Kingdom, account for 80 percent of worldwide nuclear power–generating capacity.

Westinghouse awarded Norwegian decommissioning contract

July 25, 2022, 9:22AMRadwaste Solutions
The reactor hall at the Halden research reactor. (Photo: Westinghouse)

Westinghouse Electric Company was awarded an engineering contract with Norsk Nukleær Dekommisjonering (NND) to plan the decommissioning of the country’s two nuclear research reactors, located in Halden and Kjeller. The three-year agreement includes options up to six years and is valued at up to $100 million (NOK 1 billion).

New Mexico governor vows that state will not accept spent fuel

July 18, 2022, 7:01AMNuclear News

In response to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s recommendation to issue a license to Holtec International for the construction of an interim nuclear waste storage site in southeastern New Mexico, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham released a statement condemning the regulatory agency as “effectively choosing profit over public interest.”

NRC issues final environmental review of Holtec’s SNF storage facility

July 14, 2022, 12:01PMRadwaste Solutions
A rendering of Holtec’s proposed HI-STORE CISF in New Mexico. (Image: Holtec)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has published its final environmental impact statement (EIS) for Holtec International’s proposed HI-STORE consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) for spent nuclear fuel in southeastern New Mexico. Based on its environmental review, the NRC staff recommends issuing the license, subject to the findings in the staff’s ongoing safety review of the application.

Idaho completes test run of liquid waste treatment facility

July 14, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Workers inspect the IWTU’s process gas filter before the current confirmatory run. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) said it continues to make progress toward the start of operations of the Idaho National Laboratory Site’s Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU), having completed a final test run of the facility.

Operation of the IWTU, which was constructed to treat approximately 900,000 gallons of radioactive liquid waste, has been delayed a number of times, most recently due to supply chain issues.

DOE awards $3 billion WIPP M&O contract to Bechtel affiliate

July 13, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico.

Reston, Va.-based Tularosa Basin Range Services (TBRS), a single-purpose entity under the umbrella of Bechtel National, has been awarded the 10-year, $3 billion management and operating contract for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) by the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM). Located near Carlsbad, N.M., WIPP is the DOE’s geologic repository for defense-generated transuranic waste.

The new contract replaces the current WIPP M&O contract held by Nuclear Waste Partnership, which expires on September 30. The contract with TBRS was announced on July 11.

Accelerated SRS spent fuel disposition plan to save billions, DOE says

July 7, 2022, 9:34AMRadwaste Solutions

Savannah River Site’s H Canyon and L Basin. (Photo: DOE-EM)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has approved a new plan that will accelerate the disposition of spent nuclear fuel at its Savannah River Site in South Carolina by more than 20 years, which will result in a savings of more than $4 billion.

Under the newly approved approach, called accelerated basin de-inventory (ABD), SRS will dissolve spent fuel at the site’s H Canyon chemical separations facility and send it through the liquid waste program to be vitrified and stored on-site until a federal repository is identified.

U.S. Supreme Court rules against Hanford workers’ comp law

June 23, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
An aerial view of Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant in 2021. (Photo: Bechtel National)

The U.S. Supreme Court on June 21 struck down a Washington state workers’ compensation law that was designed to make it easier for workers at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site to receive compensation benefits. The court, by unanimous decision, found that the law violates the U.S. Supremacy Clause and discriminates against the federal government and its contractors.

Located near Richland, Wash., the Hanford Site produced plutonium for the U.S. weapons program for more than 40 years and is currently undergoing a massive radiological cleanup mission involving around 10,000 workers.

CAST awarded WIPP transportation contract

June 21, 2022, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
A CAST Specialty Transportation truck loaded with TRUPACT-II shipping containers at WIPP. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has awarded CAST Specialty Transportation a contract to provide transportation services for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the DOE’s repository for defense-generated transuranic (TRU) waste near Carlsbad, N.M.

Researchers to study how metal-corroding microbes may grow in Canadian repository

June 13, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Myrna Simpson conducts molecular biogeochemistry research at the University of Toronto Scarborough. (Photo: Ken Jones/University of Toronto)

Researchers at three Canadian universities are studying whether bentonite clay—used as an engineered barrier in Canada’s proposed deep geological repository—can support sulfide-producing microbes that can eat away at the canisters containing spent nuclear fuel.

Canada demonstrates engineered barrier system for SNF disposal

June 9, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
A modified forklift with a customized handling attachment is used to move spent fuel containers and their heavy bentonite clay housings. It can move autonomously or be manually operated remotely from outside the room, as needed. (Photo: NWMO)

Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has announced that it has successfully completed a full-scale demonstration of the engineered barriers that are designed to contain and isolate Canada’s spent nuclear fuel in a deep geological repository.

Savannah River Site uses passive system to remove groundwater contaminants

June 8, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
SRNS environmental engineers Bryce Garner (left) and Adam Willey (center) ask questions of lead operator Daniel Ferrell (right), from field services contractor Cascade Environmental, as he describes how equipment injects oil and iron into the Savannah River Site’s groundwater. (Photo: DOE)

In this week’s “EM Update,” the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) reports that its contractor Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) has successfully reduced degreasing solvents in the aquifer beneath the Savannah River Site in South Carolina using a technology that injects a form of iron and oil into groundwater.

“The oil attracts the Cold War[–era] cleaning solvents while the iron degrades and neutralizes the contamination,” said Shannan Lucero, SRNS manager for area closure projects.

South Korea produces first dual-purpose used fuel cask for U.S. customer

June 8, 2022, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
SeAH Besteel’s Gusan plant in South Korea. (Image: SeAH Besteel)

Orano TN Americas and South Korean special steel maker SeAH Besteel last week announced the completion and delivery of the first dual-purpose used nuclear fuel dry storage cask manufactured for a U.S. utility by the Korean company.

Following Orano’s purchase order in September 2019, SeAH Besteel established a mass production system for Orano’s dual-purpose casks in compliance with U.S. and international nuclear standards. Orano TN Americas is a subsidiary of France’s Orano NPS.