SRS salt waste project will miss 2015 opening date

Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 5:21 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012 12:22 AM
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A new complex to process salt waste from Savannah River Site’s underground storage tanks won’t open in 2015 as planned and may require the U.S. Department of Energy to renegotiate cleanup commitments made to the state of South Carolina.

The department, as part of its ongoing effort to clean up Cold War waste in 47 underground tanks, is building a new Salt Waste Processing Facility that will replace interim components of its existing Saltstone Facility, which opened in 1990.

The new facility, with technology that will accelerate cleanup operations, has encountered challenges that included a two-year delay in delivery of storage tanks, which arrived in June. The new projected operation date is 2018.

Because of delays in the new facility the SRS Citizens Advisory Board has questioned whether continued delays would violate cleanup commitments made to the state of South Carolina.

In a Nov. 13 letter to the board, DOE-Savannah River manager David Moody said the Energy Department will discuss the regulatory impacts of the delay with South Carolina officials.

Under a Federal Facilities Agreement, the Energy Department has specified closure dates for the remaining tanks. Those projected dates may require updating if the 2015 opening date is no longer viable.

South Carolina authorities, meanwhile, aren’t happy with the newest delay.

“Because of the significance of the SWPF, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control holds an enforceable milestone for DOE to begin operation at this facility in 2015,” agency spokesman Jim Beasley told The Augusta Chronicle.

The Department of Energy has begun discussion with DHEC about a possible startup extension request, but has not formally submitted such a request, he said.

“DHEC expects DOE to make every effort to mitigate delay of SWPF startup, including pursuit of sufficient funding and exploration of technical options,” he said.

The existing saltstone facility, meanwhile, was reopened in September after a nine-month, $8 million project to improve its efficiency and capacity in preparation for its expanded role when the new plant is completed.

The improved facility processed 1.1 million gallons in September and October for a record two-month processing period, according to a news release from Savannah River Remediation, the site’s liquid waste contractor.

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Riverman1 11/21/12 - 08:45 am
It reminds me of when I was

It reminds me of when I was right out of high school and used to work a production job before I went in the Army. The old guys there told me not to work too hard because the job would run out and everyone would be laid off. Just keep prolonging this thing long as you can to keep the workers employed.

bubbasauce 11/21/12 - 10:34 am
It's not that at all

It's not that at all riverman, they have reduced the work force dramatically out at SWPF and with the delay of the tanks has brought this on. Parsons is doing a great job getting this facility built.

SCEagle Eye
SCEagle Eye 11/21/12 - 05:59 pm
where's the money

A three-year delay could mean that high-level waste management costs will go up, who knows, $1 billion. With the clean-up funding being slashed, when will DOE reveal what the exact the budget impact is and where the money will come from? If dealing with high-level waste really is the SRS priority, which it should be, the money will be found. But meanwhile, MOX is stuffing itself at the public trough and not suffering any cuts. Sounds like MOX, which doesn't have any customers and no clear mission, is now the site priority. Politics and special interests who profit from MOX sure have spun things on their head at our expense, haven't they? It's a bizarro world at SRS but the chase for our money explains it all.

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