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D&D Industry News

Keep up with deactivation and decommissioning industry news and current events.

Savannah River Site Enhances Pumps to Improve Tank Waste Retrieval

October 12, 2021

srs pumps.jpg
An enhanced commercial submersible mixer pump, designed by Savannah River Remediation for use in Tank 33 bulk waste removal efforts, arrives at the Savannah River Site​

AIKEN, S.C.  EM and it’s liquid waste contractor at the Savannah River Site (SRS) have developed a unique commercial mixer pump to use in a tank with space limitations, allowing waste retrieval efforts to advance in the tank farms.

Savannah River Remediation (SRR) currently uses commercial submersible mixer pumps (CSMPs) as the primary mixing device for waste retrieval in the majority of the tanks. The tank waste, composed of salt and sludge, needs to be mixed with water to allow the waste to be moved between tanks via transfer pumps and lines.

Typically, four CSMPs are used in each tank based on each pump’s nozzle discharge reach, known as the effective cleaning radius. The pumps are inserted into the tank through riser openings at the top of waste tanks. However, in Tank 33, cooling coils are deployed in the openings, limiting the space for the pumps to be inserted. Other tanks have internally built cooling coils that do not limit the number of access riser openings in a tank.

For this reason, SRR designed an enhanced version of the mixer pumps specifically for Tank 33. It will provide a 50-foot effective cleaning radius within the tank versus the 29-foot radius provided by the regular CSMPs. The longer effective cleaning radius decreases the number of pumps from four to three that are needed during the bulk waste removal process.

The enhanced CSMP is the first-of-its-kind pump developed for SRR, according to Mark Schmitz, SRR chief operating officer and deputy project manager.

“The successful implementation of the enhanced mixer pump is essential for the current strategy of bulk waste removal in Tank 33,” Schmitz said. “Once proven successful in Tank 33, SRR could deploy enhanced pumps in similar tanks.”

Tank 33 is one of six waste tanks currently undergoing waste removal efforts, which advances EM’s mission of waste tank closure, according to DOE-Savannah River Assistant Manager for Waste Disposition Jim Folk.

“Removing waste from aging waste tanks continues to be one of the Department’s top priorities because each tank emptied reduces the risk posed to the community and environment,” Folk said. “The development of innovative solutions to continue waste retrieval efforts when faced with infrastructure or operational challenges is key to our long-term success.”

The enhanced CSMP was developed by a small business named GPM, Inc.

-Contributor: Colleen Hart

-Source: EM Update Vol 13 Issue 40

EM Leaders Tour Laboratory That Helps Create Innovations in Safe Waste Immobilization

October 12, 2021

Atkins Robotics Engineer Kevin Maze shows EM Acting Assistant Secretary William "Ike" White how to operate the Spot quadruped robot during a recent visit to Catholic University’s Vitreous State Laboratory.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Members of EM leadership recently visited Catholic University’s Vitreous State Laboratory (VSL), a contributor to key innovations in the vitrification technology central to Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) in Washington state.

EM Acting Assistant Secretary William “Ike” White, EM Associate Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Nicole Nelson-Jean, and EM Chief Engineer Robert Crosby toured the VSL facility and received updates about its various labs and projects that support the safe immobilization of nuclear waste at DOE sites, including the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina.

Over the years, the VSL and Atkins Nuclear Secured team have helped EM continually improve efficiency in melter design and operation. VSL and Atkins have also introduced technology solutions that will avoid billions in lifecycle costs at Hanford, SRS, and the Rokkasho Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Facility in Japan.

VSL has consistently provided technology solutions to Hanford’s WTP program since 1994 through a successful university-industry partnership with Atkins. The partners were the primary contributors to the WTP vitrification development program and initiated the WTP low-activity and high-level radioactive waste loading and melt rate enhancement program with EM’s Office of River Protection in 2003. Vitrification involves turning high-level radioactive waste into a glass form by blending it with glass-forming materials and heating it to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Atkins Nuclear Secured Chief Operating Officer Jack Craig and Atkins Engineering and Technology Senior Vice President Brad Bowan hosted White, Nelson-Jean, and Crosby. During the visit, VSL Director and Physics Professor Ian Pegg discussed the usage of vitrification, provided a glass pouring demonstration, and gave a tour of the DuraMelter facilities, home to the largest test melter in the U.S. The group also made stops at the glass leaching, analytical, and nanotechnology laboratories.

VSL and Atkins also assist DOE and the nuclear industry in the fields of robotics and emerging digital technologies. White, Nelson-Jean, and Crosby viewed a demonstration of the Spot quadruped robot, which is being developed to help insulate workers from environmental hazards during routine inspections and surveys.

VSL is widely recognized as a center of excellence in glass science and technology. The laboratory’s experts have developed processes to more efficiently transform highly radioactive nuclear waste into stable glass that can be disposed safely. The center provides support to various nuclear facilities in the U.S., Japan, and United Kingdom.​

-Source: EM Update Vol 13, Issue 39

-Contributor: Lee Tucker

DOE Awards Over $33 Million in Grants to Washington, Oregon

October 12, 2021

Nitya Chandran, a facility engineer with the Washington State Department of Ecology, inspects the Tank-Side Cesium Removal connections as a part of the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste system at the Hanford Site. DOE recently awarded four financial assistance grants, including one to the Washington State Department of Ecology to continue its regulatory activities under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.​

RICHLAND, Wash.  DOE awarded four financial assistance grants, totaling approximately $33.5 million, to Oregon and Washington state last week. The non-competitive grants support environmental response regulatory activities, emergency preparedness, and public information programs related to the Hanford Site.

DOE awarded Washington state three grants totaling approximately $29.1 million for regulatory oversight and emergency preparedness for the next five years, from Oct. 1, 2021 to Sept. 30, 2026. The funding supports the following activities:

  • The Washington State Department of Ecology was awarded approximately $19.1 million to continue its regulatory activities under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act. This includes regulating chemical and hazardous waste cleanup under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and reviewing Hanford cleanup plans for compliance with state laws and regulations.
  • The Washington State Department of Health was awarded approximately $5.2 million to continue to provide oversight of the Department’s radiation monitoring programs. This includes independently collecting and analyzing samples to verify the quality of the Department’s programs.
  • The Washington State Military Department was awarded approximately $4.8 million to continue emergency preparedness planning with local counties near the Hanford Site, as well as other state agencies. The allocation also funds planning for waste transportation along state highways.

Oregon was awarded one grant totaling approximately $4.4 million for technical review of Hanford and public information activities for the next five years, from Oct. 1, 2021 to Sept. 30, 2026. This includes administering the Oregon Hanford Cleanup Board that discusses Hanford cleanup. The award also funds emergency preparedness planning related to Hanford.

All four grants are for fiscal years 2022 through 2026.

Source: EM Update Vol. 13

WIPP Contractor Helps Fund Student STEM Centers in Southeast New Mexico

October 12, 2021

Hobbs Municipal Schools Superintendent Gene Strickland, center, with Sanger Elementary Principal Kelly Inman, far left, and Jefferson Elementary Principal Pam Randall, far right, join students to cut the ribbon on a new Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation STEM Center mobile laboratory at Jefferson Elementary.

CARLSBAD, N.M.  EM’s main contractor at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) helped fund two centers for an area school district where students can stretch their imaginations while honing their science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills by exploring electric circuit boards, tiny robots, and other unique gadgets.

Each Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation STEM Center mobile laboratory comes equipped with innovative classroom kits full of STEM toys designed to inspire lifelong interest in STEM. Students can learn how to build a circuit to motor fans, power lights, or even charge phones. The Evo Ozobots are electronic circuit robots about the size of a coffee pod that follow hand-drawn or computer-printed color diagrams to encourage students to code creatively. The centers are also outfitted with 3D printers and printer supplies.

Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP) was one of three major employers in southeastern New Mexico that helped fund the STEM centers at Jefferson and Sanger elementary schools for Hobbs Municipal Schools earlier this year. The two other employers are oil-producing companies Devon Energy and EOG Resources.

“We want the children in our state, and especially in our region, to have access to the best learning tools available for STEM education,” said Sean Dunagan, NWP president and project manager. “Centers like these foster a passion for science and math and we are proud to contribute to opening the STEM centers at Jefferson and Sanger elementary schools.”

Continue reading at https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDOEOEM/bulletins/2f58db7#link_2​

Source: EM Update Vol 13

EM Updates Cleanup 'By the Numbers'

July 08, 2021

The Savannah River Site's "By the Numbers" features facts and figures about cleanup and more.

EM has updated its popular “By the Numbers” feature, which illustrates cleanup progress at EM sites through quick and clear infographics.

Facts and figures on each major EM site, plus the Savannah River National Laboratory, can be found here. Each site page also features a key look forward to an anticipated achievement over the next decade, as described in more detail in the Strategic Vision 2021-2031, a blueprint to the program’s anticipated accomplishments over the next decade that will protect the public and environment.

Some tidbits from the new “By the Numbers:”

  • 932 facilities, many contaminated, have been demolished at the Hanford Site.
  • More than 60,000 cubic meters of managed transuranic and mixed low-level waste at the Idaho National Laboratory Site has been shipped offsite for disposal.
  • 36 monitoring, extraction, and injection wells have been installed in and around the hexavalent chromium plume at the Los Alamos National Laboratory Site. These wells and associated infrastructure support characterization and migration of the plume via an interim measure.
  • More than 11.6 million tons of tailings at the Moab Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Project have been shipped for disposal, amounting to 72% of the total tons.
  • About 51.3 million cubic feet of classified and low-level waste/mixed low-level waste has been disposed at the Nevada National Security Site radioactive waste disposal facilities since 1961.
  • $500 million was saved by completing major cleanup four years early at the East Tennessee Technology Park at the Oak Ridge Site.
  • 66 million pounds of scrap metal — enough to build a World War I battleship — has been removed from storage yards at the Paducah Site. Contaminated scrap metal was a major contributor to surface water contamination.
  • EM expects to complete the demolition of all remaining DOE-owned buildings at the Energy Technology Engineering Center by the end of 2021.
  • More than 124 million pounds of total waste has been shipped/disposed offsite from the Portsmouth Site to date.
  • About 1.56 million cubic yards of ash and materials was remediated as part of the D Area Ash Project at the Savannah River Site. The project cleaned up nearly 60 years of byproducts from the now-closed, coal-powered D Area Powerhouse.
  • 15 acres of land has been remediated at the Separations Process Research Unit.
  • 263,205 containers have been emplaced in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant underground.
  • Over 50 countries have collaborated with the Savannah River National Laboratory.
  • 68 surplus facilities have been removed from the West Valley Demonstration Project.

​-Source: EM News​

Waste Shipments Support Continued Progress at Hanford Reactor Basin

July 02, 2021

Workers with EM contractor Central Plateau Cleanup Company recently packaged and transferred the first shipment of contaminated filter media from the K West Reactor fuel storage basin for safe interim storage at T Plant on the Hanford Site.

RICHLAND, Wash.  EM’s Richland Operations Office (RL) and contractor Central Plateau Cleanup Company have safely packaged and shipped the first engineered container of highly contaminated filter media from the K West Reactor spent fuel storage basin to T Plant on the Hanford Site.

The complex project required workers to design a system to remotely access 6-foot-tall filter vessels enclosed behind an 18-inch-thick concrete shield wall. The remote system allows operators to remove and place the hazardous material safely in the shielded containers for transport out of the basin. The filter media was used to remove radionuclides from the water in the 1.2-million-gallon basin during fuel packaging operations.

Crews will transfer the filter media to T Plant in three separate shipments for safe interim storage away from the Columbia River, with the final shipment expected in August. The work follows the successful removal and transfer of radioactive fuel sludge in September 2019.

Removal of the contaminated material will allow workers to dispose of the filter system safely during demolition of the facility.

“The safe containment and transport of the contaminated filter media is another key step toward removing water from and demolishing the basin,” said Mark French, RL project and facilities division director. “Our teams continue to make excellent progress on this critical risk-reduction project.”

-Contributor: Dieter Bohrmann
-Source: EM News​

Hanford Team Finishes Jobsite Transformation With Paving

July 02, 2021


RICHLAND, Wash. – EM’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant team recently finished the final phase of jobsite roadway and parking lot paving work for Hanford’Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) facilities. The DFLAW Program is a system of interdependent projects and infrastructure improvements, managed and highly integrated as a single program, that must operate together to vitrify the tank waste, which means to immobilize it in glass. The team joined with local subcontractor Inland Paving to apply the final stretch of nearly 219,000 square feet of asphalt. The final paving and striping sequence included the roadway north of the Analytical Laboratory, roadways surrounding the Effluent Management Facility, shown here, and a driveway entrance/exit for the Immobilized Low-Activity Waste transportation staging area. The first of three phases of paving began in spring 2020 and immediately transformed the jobsite from its nearly 20-year construction environment to one more closely resembling a finished, nearly operational plant.

-Contributor: Staci West 

​-Source: EM News

Oak Ridge Primes Powerhouse Site for Future Recreational Use

July 02, 2021

​ Crews used more than 2,000 truckloads of topsoil to recontour a portion of the former Powerhouse Area at Oak Ridge. UCOR employees identified an innovative approach to avoid costs and enhance efficiency by grading down a nearby ridge to obtain soil for the work.

 OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Once home to a massive power plant and oil tanks, the former Powerhouse Area at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) is now a clean, grassy field primed for future recreational use.

The Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) and cleanup contractor UCOR recently backfilled and contoured a 21-acre section of the area previously used as a scrapyard. EM removed the 50,000 tons of scrap metal and contaminated soil there more than a decade ago.

The recently completed project directs stormwater to wetlands and the nearby Clinch River. Transforming and recontouring the site, which is proposed for recreational development, required more than 6,000 truckloads of backfill and 2,000 truckloads of topsoil.

The project follows a similar one earlier this year in which workers placed a 2-foot soil cover on an adjacent 9-acre area that housed oil tanks also associated with the former powerhouse. Employees used an innovative GPS system on both projects to ensure appropriate soil placement and contouring.

“UCOR’s workforce again has proved that they are some of the most hardworking and innovative individuals that perform this type of cleanup work,” said Hoss Brown, enterprise manager for Heritage Center, which is the former ETTP site. “I am grateful to be associated with this workforce.”

A view of a 21-acre portion of the Powerhouse Area at Oak Ridge where workers backfilled, contoured, and hydroseeded. This land is being proposed for future recreational development

Oak Ridge's Powerhouse Area, pictured upper left, was later used as a metal scrapyard. EM removed 50,000 tons of scrap metal from the site in 2007.

The former K-770 Powerhouse provided energy for enrichment operations at the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant. The powerhouse and oil tank farm are pictured during early operations. EM demolished the facilities in the 1990s.

Given the large amount of soil required to complete the latest project on the 21-acre site, employees identified an innovative approach to avoid costs and enhance efficiency. They graded down a nearby ridge to access soil for recontouring. This approach eliminated costs associated with buying soil, enhanced efficiency by using trucks from UCOR opposed to an outside vendor, and created more useable acreage by reducing the grade of the adjacent ridge.

As with EM’s other soil remediation projects at ETTP, completing this effort enables EM to transfer land from federal ownership for reuse by the community.

Last year, EM finished demolishing all former buildings at ETTP, the former Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Several excavation projects are underway to remove contaminated soil from various locations at the site and replace it with clean dirt — resulting in property available for industrial and recreational development. The powerhouse powered early operations at the former uranium enrichment site.

The latest remediation efforts are some of the final stages needed to reach EM’s vision for the site as a multi-use industrial center, national park, and conservation area.​

-Contributor: Wayne McKinney

-Source: EM Update

SRS Moves Closer to Accelerating Removal of Plutonium from South Carolina

April 12, 2021


Crews move equipment used to inspect drums holding radioactive material into a storage site in K Area at the Savannah River Site.​

AIKEN, S.C.  EM workers at the Savannah River Site (SRS) are setting the stage to accelerate the removal and disposal of plutonium from South Carolina.

They recently finished transferring equipment used to inspect drums holding the radioactive material from the site’s Solid Waste Management Facility (SWMF) to the K Area Criticality Control Overpack Characterization and Storage Pad. Characterization and shipping activities will be consolidated at that storage facility.

“The transfer of this equipment was no easy task,” DOE Nuclear Materials Senior Technical Advisor Maxcine Maxted said. “Weighing over 70,000 pounds and at 40 feet long, many departments had to be involved in the safe transport.”

Maxted said moving the equipment to K Area will allow SRS to eliminate the step of sending the drums to SWMF for characterization and shipment to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico for final disposition.

“Now we can perform both of those tasks right from K Area, making the process more efficient,” Maxted said.

The relocated equipment includes an X-ray system that enables operators to inspect the contents of drums without opening them. The drums were developed to safely package and transport materials such as the downblended plutonium in the K Area that goes to WIPP for disposition. The downblended plutonium has been determined to be surplus to the nation’s defense needs.

“WIPP has specific standards for the type of materials allowed in their underground repository,” DOE-Savannah River Waste Disposition Programs Division Director Sonitza Blanco said. “The examination is performed under the certified Central Characterization Program, which is managed by the personnel from the managing and operating contractor of WIPP, Nuclear Waste Partnership. It verifies and validates that the waste within each container matches the documentation provided by SRS and that it does not contain any WIPP prohibited items.”

Following the inspection, employees ensure the contents of the drums are within radioactive limits. Next, the drums are certified for shipment to WIPP and loaded into a larger sealed container before leaving K Area.

The K Area storage facility will add capacity to store over 3,800 drums awaiting shipment. Construction is scheduled for completion later this year. After the storage facility is complete, DOE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will conduct regulatory reviews prior to WIPP authorizing the first shipment planned for 2022.

Workers also have completed extensive facility modifications and equipment upgrades at K Area to perform plutonium downblend more efficiently.

-Contributor: Lindsey MonBarren

-Source: EM Update

Team Completes Nearly 5,500 Procedures for Hanford Plant Operations

April 12, 2021

 A recent aerial view of the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant shows key facilities that will treat Hanford Site tank waste. The EM contractor team for the plant recently finished developing nearly 5,500 procedures required for operations.​

RICHLAND, Wash. – An EM Office of River Protection (ORP) contractor team has finished creating almost 5,500 step-by-step procedures required for operation of Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) systems and facilities needed for Hanford’s Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) approach to tank waste treatment.

The team of prime contractor Bechtel National, Inc. and subcontractor Waste Treatment Completion Company (WTCC) developed the bulk of the procedures for 119 systems, with 37 abnormal operating procedures and six emergency operating procedures covering potential events such as high winds, wildfire, or security issues.

DFLAW is a system of interdependent projects and infrastructure improvements, managed and highly integrated as a program, that must operate together to vitrify, or immobilize within glass, Hanford tank waste.

“Completing operating procedures is the catalyst for training plant staff before we start up the first melter in the Low-Activity Waste Facility,” said Mat Irwin, ORP deputy assistant manager for the plant. “This accomplishment makes it possible for the training department to develop scenarios and train operations staff; the commissioning team to develop work packages; and the operations team to follow procedures for running systems and managing the plant.”

A pair of 300-ton melters will use electricity to heat tank waste and glass-forming materials to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit. The molten mixture will be poured into large stainless-steel containers that will be sealed and transported to Hanford’s nearby Integrated Disposal Facility.

The WTCC Technical Procedures Department is a group of 35 experienced writers who work with teams across the plant to review and approve procedures. The department’s collaboration with engineering, operations, safety, and many other departments was key to continuously improving and issuing the procedures on time.

“Most of our team has both U.S. Navy and commercial nuclear experience,” said Shavon Asselin, WTCC operations procedures manager. “Their experience played a major role in completing this goal. I'm proud to be a part of such a driven and talented team.”

The WTP facilities can be viewed using the self-guided Hanford Virtual Tour.

-Contributor: Sheila Gideon

-Source: EM Update

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