A new “melter” to serve Savannah River Site’s important Defense Waste Processing Facility arrived in South Carolina this month and will be placed in storage for future use, possibly in six to 10 years.
The 65-ton devices are considered the heart of the facility that blends high-level radioactive waste into molten glass that is poured into stainless steel canisters for long-term storage.
The processing plant is now using the second melter of its 17-year history. A third device remains in storage and is expected to be placed into service in late 2014 or 2015, according to officials with Savannah River Remediation, the site’s liquid waste contractor.
The fourth melter – which arrived March 6 – has been placed in storage to succeed melter 3.
The processing plant had poured a total of 3,591 canisters through March 10, or almost half the projected 7,580 canisters that will eventually be filled during the disposal of the site’s hazardous waste.
The canisters remain stored at the South Carolina facility, but their future disposition path is unclear.
A possible destination could have been the government’s Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada, but that project was canceled.