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Department decides on how to decommission 4 reactors

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After years of study into the best way to decommission Savannah River Site's obsolete Cold War nuclear reactors, the Energy Department has settled on a plan to fill them with concrete and leave them in place forever.

According to an Environmental Bulletin published Friday, the department's Early Action Proposed Plan -- which is out for public comment through Aug. 3 -- involves "in-situ" (in-place) decommissioning as the preferred option for C, K, L and R reactors.

Such a plan, which is similar to one in place for P-Reactor, involves removing portions of the reactor buildings and maintaining the structural integrity of above-ground portions for at least 200 years, the bulletin said.

"In making these recommendations, we look at the full range of alternatives, from the no-action alternative all the way through in-situ to a complete removal alternative," said Ray Hannah, the decommissioning project manager for C, K, L and R reactors.

The benefits of such a plan include stabilization and isolation of remaining contamination; prevention of the migration of radioactive or hazardous contaminants to groundwater; prevention of exposure to industrial workers; and prevention of radioactive exposure to animal intruders.

Helen Belencan, the Recovery Act project manager at SRS, said current plans call for decommissioning P and R reactors by the end of 2011, with work at K, L and C reactors to be completed much later.

The Early Action Proposed Plan out for review follows a record of decisions already made for in-situ decommissioning for P-Reactor, she said.

"Leading up to the decision on P-Reactor, we held a series of workshops around the state to gather input, and it was largely positive," she said. "The in-situ decommissioning is safe for the environment, causes less risk for the workers and saves the DOE and taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars."

Environmental groups, however, think it might be more prudent to demolish and remove the old heavy water reactors, which once produced material for the nation's nuclear arsenal.

"Another option is to dismantle the reactors and dispose of the components in a special on-site facility," said Tom Clements, the Southeastern nuclear campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth.

"Building a special disposal facility should be considered at SRS, but as the (in-situ) method is cheaper and more acceptable under a weaker regulatory climate, it has been the basis of discussion for some time," he said.

As part of the site's $1.6 billion allocation from the federal stimulus program, deactivation work already under way on P-Reactor is expected to accelerate, and the R-Reactor project will be moved up for a faster completion.

SAVANNAH RIVER SITE REACTORS

P-REACTOR: began operating in 1954 and was shut down in 1988; decommissioning under way

C-REACTOR: began operating in 1955 and was shut down in 1986; now used for cask car refurbishments

K-REACTOR: began operating in 1954 and was placed in standby in 1988; restarted in 1992 for power tests before being shut down in 1993; now used for plutonium disposition

L-REACTOR: operated from 1954 to 1968 and from 1985 to 1988; now used for nuclear materials storage

R-REACTOR: operated from 1953 to 1964 and was the first to go online; awaiting decommissioning

Source: U.S. Department of Energy

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wildman
1225
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wildman 06/23/09 - 03:26 am
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Clements get a real job!

Clements get a real job!

Riverman1
94342
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Riverman1 06/23/09 - 07:21 am
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It's okay for us to keep

It's okay for us to keep wastes encased in concrete forever, but Yucca Mtn is not going to be allowed. So we are going to monitor the site for 200 years and maintain the structures? Yeah, right. I'd take a bet on that if there was a way for us to find out who won. One day the place will be abandoned, concrete cracking with animals and people running all around it and radioactive kudzu hiding it.

SCEagle Eye
959
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SCEagle Eye 06/23/09 - 07:31 am
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Five reactors filed with

Five reactors filed with concrete and left forever at SRS - what sad "Monuments of Shame" to the environmental and financial costs of the insane Cold War. I wonder if "Uncle BS" has ever taken a handout from us hard-working taxpayers, including working at SRS? Thanks very much for clarifying if your "real job" is/was at the luxury of the rest of us or not. A tip o' the nuclear hat to taxpayers who are paying for all the SRS projects which produce jobs that benefit us all. As far as the many SRS jobs which have no social benefit - like MOX or tritium - well, contact Uncle BS for comment.

What4
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What4 06/23/09 - 10:48 am
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The real shame is that we

The real shame is that we continue to proliferate nuclear reactor construction knowing full well that we have no clue what to due with them when they age. Let's try this..now let's try this..we will be gone before we can get sued. Wouldn't you love to live in beautiful downtown Barnwell, the nation's nuclear waste dump.

uptheseventhplanet
1
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uptheseventhplanet 06/23/09 - 01:53 pm
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Everyone should get the

Everyone should get the chance to drive by P Reactor and take a lood at how "well maintained" the site is. I saw it a few times years ago and it was a disgrace from 200 yards away.

waver
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waver 06/23/09 - 02:06 pm
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Just like the trash on our

Just like the trash on our highways and junk strewn everywhere we will allow this while the people of Washington state will only accept complete demolition of the reactors along the Columbia River. Instead of cleanup this is just coverup with hundreds of office people being paid to justify it (real jobs?).
I would like to see some articles about the old earthquake faults that have allowed the SRS groundwater contamination to flow into Burke County. This happened in NY and all hell broke loose, not here.....

Riverman1
94342
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Riverman1 06/23/09 - 09:29 pm
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0
SRS is going to be Yucca Mtn

SRS is going to be Yucca Mtn by default. That's kind of a play on words too.

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