Waste Management

Canada to site a geologic repository for ILW and nonfuel HLW

October 10, 2023, 3:01PMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization, the not-for-profit organization responsible for managing Canada’s spent nuclear fuel, said it will begin developing a plan for a consent-based siting process for a deep geologic repository for intermediate-level and nonfuel high-level radioactive waste.

What Texas v. Nuclear Regulatory Commission tells us

October 9, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

Here we go again: Another “workaround” on U.S. nuclear waste policy just got shot down in a federal courtroom. On August 25, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission lacked the authority to grant a license to Interim Storage Partners LLC (read: Waste Control Specialists) to accept and store up to 5,000 tons of used nuclear fuel at its proposed facility in Andrews County, Texas. Writing for the court, U.S. circuit judge James Ho found that “the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) creates a comprehensive statutory scheme for addressing spent nuclear fuel accumulation. The scheme prioritizes construction of the permanent repository and limits temporary storage to private, at-the-reactor storage or at federal sites. It plainly contemplates that, until there’s a permanent repository, spent nuclear fuel is to be stored onsite at-the-reactor or in a federal facility.”

This decision is not necessarily a knockout blow. The court’s reading of the law is, well, novel. Other appeals courts have recognized the NRC’s authority to license away-from-reactor storage, and the Supreme Court is likely to weigh in. But given the current high court’s proclivities on “textualism” and the Chevron doctrine, we shouldn’t consider it a slam dunk.

SRS employees use novel training exercise to align waste mission

October 5, 2023, 3:02PMRadwaste Solutions
Ray Tran, an engineer for Savannah River tank farms, helps complete a timeline of SRS historical events as part of SRMC’s vision casting training initiative. (Photo: DOE)

More than 3,000 employees with Department of Energy contractor Savannah River Mission Completion (SRMC) participated in a vision casting initiative, learning more about the past, present, and future of the Savannah River Site’s liquid waste mission.

Crews demolish second legacy Oak Ridge reactor lab

October 2, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
The Low Intensity Test Reactor structure is lifted from its housing and placed in a specialized carbon metal container for shipment for disposal. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management announced it has completed a second of its 2023 priorities at Oak Ridge in as many months with the demolition of the Low Intensity Test Reactor, known as Building 3005, at the Tennessee site.

Watch a video of Building 3005 and its decommissioning here.

DOE-EM awards cleanup grants and cooperative agreements

October 2, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Workers remove contaminated sediment from the SRS in South Carolina. A $19 million DOE grant will support state monitoring of the site. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management has awarded nearly $54 million in noncompetitive financial assistance grants and cooperative agreements to help support the office’s cleanup program. DOE-EM is responsible for environmental legacy cleanup of the effects of decades of nuclear weapons development and government-sponsored nuclear energy research.

Washington reaches settlement with DOE in Hanford data access spat

September 19, 2023, 9:32AMRadwaste Solutions
A Department of Ecology inspector at the Hanford Site. (Photo: Department of Ecology)

Washington state’s Department of Ecology said it has reached a settlement with the Department of Energy over access to data the state described as “critical” to the cleanup of the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash.

Hanford begins removing Vit Plant startup heaters

September 14, 2023, 12:01PMRadwaste Solutions
A startup heater is removed from a melter in the Vit Plant’s Low-Activity Waste Facility. (Photo: DOE)

Workers at the Hanford Site’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, also known as the Vit Plant, have begun removing the first three of 18 temporary startup heaters, the Department of Energy announced on September 12. The startup heaters were used to raise the first of two 300-ton glass melters in the plant’s Low-Activity Waste Facility to its operating temperature of 2,100°F.

DOE issues first Cleanup to Clean Energy RFI

August 31, 2023, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
An elk herd at the DOE’s Hanford Site in Washington state. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy has released the first request for information (RFI) related to the department’s Cleanup to Clean Energy initiative, which aims to repurpose certain DOE-owned lands, portions of which were previously used in the nation’s nuclear weapons program, into sites for clean energy generation.

Minnesota PUC clears Monticello for more spent fuel storage

August 31, 2023, 9:31AMRadwaste Solutions
Monticello nuclear power plant. (Photo: Xcel Energy)

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved Xcel Energy’s request for a certificate of need to expand spent fuel storage at the utility’s Monticello nuclear power plant.

The additional storage, according to the PUC, requires installation of a second concrete support pad and modular concrete storage system designed to hold 14 additional steel canisters.

Xcel had requested increased outdoor storage to accommodate its plan to extend Monticello’s operational life by 10 years, to 2040.

Deep Isolation receives ARPA-E award to further borehole disposal technologies

August 31, 2023, 7:03AMRadwaste Solutions

Deep Isolation announced this week that it has received funding from the Department of Energy to test a range of deep borehole disposal canisters at a test facility in Cameron, Texas, managed by the nonprofit Deep Borehole Demonstration Center.

Oak Ridge breaks ground on critical new disposal facility

August 25, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
Taking part in the Environmental Management Disposal Facility groundbreaking, from left, were Steve Arnette of Jacobs; Mark Whitney of Amentum,; Wade Creswell, a Roane Co., Tenn., executive; Brent Booker of the Laborers’ International Union of North America; Kevin Adkisson of North America’s Building Trades Unions; Jeaneanne Gettle of the EPA; Lt. Gov. Randy McNally; David Salyers of TDEC; Ken Rueter of UCOR; Jay Mullis of OREM; U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann; and DOE-EM’s William “Ike” White. (Photo: DOE)

National, state, and local leaders joined the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) and its lead cleanup contractor, United Cleanup Oak Ridge (UCOR), earlier this month to celebrate the groundbreaking for a new on-site disposal facility at the Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee.

Watch a video highlighting the Environmental Management Disposal Facility groundbreaking ceremony here.

American Nuclear Society supports water release at Fukushima Daiichi

August 24, 2023, 8:41AMPress Releases

Washington, D.C. – The American Nuclear Society (ANS) supports the start of Japan’s controlled release of re-treated, diluted tritium wastewater into the sea from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), which sustained damage in the aftermath of a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

New Mexico publishes final proposed permit for WIPP

August 21, 2023, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions

The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) released the proposed final permit for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant renewal process on August 15. The NMED also announced a public hybrid meeting scheduled for September 22, where the public will have the opportunity to ask questions about the proposed final permit.

Sellafield begins removing waste from legacy fuel cladding store

August 17, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The Pile Fuel Cladding Silo on the Sellafield site in West Cumbria, England. (Photo: Sellafield Ltd.)

After decades of planning and weeks of preparation and checks, the first batch of legacy waste has been retrieved from the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo at the Sellafield nuclear site in West Cumbria, England. According to Sellafield Ltd., the site license company, a state-of-the-art robotic arm was used to reach into the silo and, for the first time, remove and repackage the waste for longer-term storage.

These retrievals mark a significant achievement in progress toward the cleanup and decommissioning of one of the most hazardous buildings on the site, according to Sellafield Ltd., which made the announcement on August 16.

Watch a video about the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo and Sellafield’s waste retrieval operations here.

IAEA launches new research project on deep borehole disposal

August 14, 2023, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
A schematic illustration of a deep borehole repository assuming disposal into a bedrock. (Image: Sandia National Laboratories via IAEA)

The International Atomic Energy Agency is launching a new Coordinated Research Project (CRP) to increase international knowledge and drive progress toward testing deep borehole disposal for intermediate- and high-level radioactive waste.

SRS saves money through double-stack project

August 9, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
SRS reached a landmark achievement with the placement of 2,000 double-stacked canisters of vitrified HLW. (Image: DOE)

To expand interim storage of vitrified high-level radioactive waste at the Savannah River Site, the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management and its liquid waste contractor Savannah River Mission Completion (SRMC) have double stacked 2,000 canisters in one of the site's two glass waste storage buildings (GWSB). GWSB 1 consists of a below-grade, seismically qualified concrete storage location containing support frames for the vertical storage of 2,262 10-foot-tall canisters.


Glass added to heated Hanford Vit Plant melter

August 9, 2023, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
A 300-pound bag of frit is in position to be poured into the melter at Hanford’s LAW Facility. (Photo: Bechtel National)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management announced that the first batches of glass-forming beads, called frit, were poured last week into a melter at the Hanford Site’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP), also known as the Vit Plant. The melter, which has been heated to 2,100ºF, will be used to immobilize Hanford’s radioactive and chemical tank waste, turning it into a stable glass form through vitrification.