Construction has been completed on a new disposal unit for radioactive saltstone waste at Savannah River Site.
The 32.8-million gallon Saltstone Disposal Unit 6, which cost about $118 million, was designed and built by SRS liquid waste contractor Savannah River Remediation. The unit was finished 16 months ahead of schedule and $25 million under budget, according to a joint news release from the waste contractor, U.S. Department of Energy and SRS.
It can accommodate the larger stream of decontaminated salt solution from the Salt Waste Processing Facility, scheduled to begin operations in December 2018. The unit is more than 10 times larger than the six previously constructed tanks, and is the first of seven planned to store the remaining tank waste, the release states.
“The SDUs are an important part of our cleanup mission and underscore the Department of Energy’s continued commitment to furthering progress on the closure of the high-level waste tanks at SRS,” said Jack Craig, DOE-Savannah River Manager.
Salt waste in SRS tanks makes up about 90 percent of the waste volume. The saltstone facility receives decontaminated salt solution after highly radioactive isotopes, primarily cesium, are removed and transferred to the Defense Waste Processing Facility to be turned to glass and stored at SRS awaiting permanent disposal.
“We worked in partnership with DOE on an innovative design for SDU 6 that would meet the cleanup needs of the Site and make operations more efficient in the future,” said Tom Foster, Savannah River Remediation President and Project Manager. “We are proud to bring this project in under budget and ahead of schedule to support the SRS mission.”
The unit’s design is different from the previous six, which each hold roughly three million gallons of saltstone. The design resembles commercial water tank applications.
The larger unit and other similar ones are expected to save more than $500 million over the life of the low-level saltstone waste storage program because it requires less infrastructure and materials to design and build the them, the release states. SRS would have needed 80 of the smaller saltstone disposal units but now requires only seven of the larger ones to meet mission needs.