2 more SRS nuclear waste tanks to be grouted this fall

Friday, July 26, 2013 12:11 PM
Last updated 8:55 PM
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Contractors are awaiting final clearance to permanently close and seal two more of Savannah River Site’s underground nuclear waste tanks.

The contractor, Savannah River Remediation, must complete a self-assessment and pass a formal readiness assessment by an independent review team before grouting can begin, said Stuart MacVean, the company’s interim president and project manager.

Such assessments affirm adequacy of preparations, equipment, personnel training and hazard mitigation.

The two tanks – called 5 and 6 – held about 750,000 gallons each of Cold War radioactive waste, which has been removed. The final step, grouting, is scheduled to begin next month and continue through the fall.

Originally, there were 51 underground tanks at the site. Two were closed in the 1990s, and two more – tanks 18 and 19 – were closed last year under a long-term plan to eventually clean up and close all tanks.

Although tanks 5 and 6 are on schedule to be grouted this year, site officials have advised that looming federal budget cuts could affect the schedule for future tank cleanups.

The U.S. Department of Energy has advised the South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control that it might not be able to remain in compliance with the closing schedule outlined in a federal facilities agreement.

David Moody, the DOE’s site manager, has said that funding is available to complete the grouting of tanks 5 and 6 this year but that there might not be enough money available for the next round.

A possible change under discussion with South Carolina involves using available funding in fiscal years2014 and 2015 to clean out the next round of tanks and process the waste, but postpone final grouting process until more money is available.

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SCEagle Eye
SCEagle Eye 07/26/13 - 04:51 pm
DHEC: stand firm

The SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) should stand firm in holding DOE to the schedule in the Federal Facility Agreement about the dates for tank closure. There must be no departure from that schedule and DOE must find the money within its budget to honor its commitments to South Carolina. With the plutonium fuel MOX program and nuclear weapons programs drowning in funding, there is plenty of money in the DOE budget that can be allotted to high-level waste management at the Savannah River Site.

wildman 07/26/13 - 09:02 pm

With the budget problems at SRS I will be surprised if they have enough people to perform the work. Guess we will wait and see.

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