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Closure of 2 SRS nuclear waste tanks ahead of schedule

Monday, July 9, 2012 1:34 PM
Last updated 7:57 PM
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The operational closure of two of Savannah River Site’s high-level radioactive waste tanks will be completed in September, well ahead of a Dec. 31 deadline imposed by the South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control.

Savannah River Remediation project manager Jim Herbert uses remote cameras to monitor the final grouting of Tank 19, which once contained 1.3 million gallons of Savannah River Site's high-level radioactive waste.  Special/U.S. Department of Energy
Special/U.S. Department of Energy
Savannah River Remediation project manager Jim Herbert uses remote cameras to monitor the final grouting of Tank 19, which once contained 1.3 million gallons of Savannah River Site's high-level radioactive waste.

The site includes 49 underground storage tanks – some of which are leaking – that contain up to 1.3 million gallons apiece of waste generated by nuclear weapons programs housed there since the 1950s.

The cleanup process includes removing and processing the waste from the tanks, then filling them with a thickened, custom-made grout that will permanently seal them in place.

Work began April 2 to fill two of the emptied tanks – tanks 18 and 19 – with more than 3.2 million gallons of grout.

Remaining steps include grouting of related equipment and capping of the tanks, including grouting of the tanks’ two-foot wide service entrances used to place equipment inside the tanks during cleanup.

“We have some work remaining to completely fill and cap the tanks, but, with bulk grouting complete, we have eliminated considerable risk for our workers and the environment,” said Dave Olson, president of liquid waste contractor Savannah River Remediation.

Although the U.S. Energy Department agreed to complete the grouting by Dec. 31, the work will be finished in September, said Terrel Spears, the department’s SRS assistant waste disposition manager.

Savannah River Site was the first Energy Department facility to close waste tanks when Tanks 17 and 20 were closed in 1997.

The only other high-level waste tanks were closed at the Idaho National Laboratory in 2007.

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atom.girl
19
Points
atom.girl 07/10/12 - 07:51 am
0
1
Radiation more important than volume

The important question is how much radiation remains in the tanks. When the grout fails, and it always will because it is a short-lived water-based medium, the leftover radiation will be free to leak into SC low country environment. Can you get that info for us Rob Pavey?

SAMarshall
5
Points
SAMarshall 07/10/12 - 01:38 pm
1
0
Grout

atom.girl, you may want to do a little more research on grout. This isn't your bathroom tile material they are talking about here.

bots
2
Points
bots 07/11/12 - 10:20 am
0
0
SRS grout

What an accomplishment to be 3 months ahead of schedule! Four down and "only" 45 more to go! Let's see, if it took 15 years to close two tanks, the rest should be done by 2342! Not very comforting! Yes, the grout is not the bathroom tile material, but there is no guarantee that the stuff will last as long as it needs to, especially being exposed to highly radioactive material. I don't understand how pouring grout on TOP of the waste will stop it from leaking out of the BOTTOM of the already leaking tank. Read about the grout and what the National Research Council calls DOE's "out of sight out of mind" philosophy of waste management at http://ieer.org/resource/reports/doe-doesnt-grout/

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