Government

More News | | | Editor

Mystery growth on Savannah River Site nuclear waste not spreading

Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012 9:23 PM
Last updated 10:40 PM
  • Follow Latest News

Scientists still don’t know what created the mysterious bacteria found growing on Savannah River Site’s spent nuclear fuel, but there might be an easy way to get rid of it.

“We’re considering a mechanical remedy,” said Maxcine Maxted, the site’s spent fuel program manager, during a presentation last week to the SRS Citizens Advisory Board.

The white, stringy “cobwebs” were first observed in October 2011 among fuel assemblies submerged 12 to 17 feet in the site’s L Area basin, where aging nuclear materials from foreign and domestic research reactors are stored and guarded.

An assessment concluded it was “biological in nature” and had infested about 7 percent of the 3.5-million-gallon basin.

“Of course it’s really not a cobweb, and it’s not from a spider,” she said, adding that genetic tests of samples found about 3,000 different kinds of bacteria.

In recent months, observers noticed areas where the cobwebs were removed for sampling have not become reinfested.

“At this point, it’s not increasing,” she said. “The spots where we vacuumed up samples are not coming back.”

The simple remedy, she said, might be to just physically remove the material.

Although rare, bacterial colonies have been observed in a few nuclear environments, including a Canadian reactor and at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, where a growth developed in the site’s spent fuel basin after its 1979 accident.

“This material is still different, though, because nobody’s ever seen it in a stringy structure,” Maxted said. “But we now know it’s not growing or spreading.”

Comments (1) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Little Lamb
45856
Points
Little Lamb 11/05/12 - 10:03 am
0
0
Aging

From the story:

. . . in the site’s L Area basin, where aging nuclear materials from foreign and domestic research reactors are stored and guarded.

Isn't everything aging?

Back to Top

Top headlines

Paine president resigns

George C. Bradley resigned as president of the embattled Paine College on Tuesday as the institution continues efforts to maintain its accreditation after several years of financial mismanagement ...
Search Augusta jobs