Originally created 10/12/06

Stabilized waste leaves SRS



AIKEN - The Department of Energy has successfully stabilized thousands of gallons of radioactive liquid at Savannah River Site, "achieving a major safety milestone," officials announced Wednesday.

In all, the federal agency and its private contractor, Washington Savannah River Co., have satisfied more than 50 recommendations from the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board issued between 1994 and 2000, according to a dual statement from the organizations.

Among accomplished goals officials listed:

- About 100,000 gallons of plutonium solution: About 80 percent was stabilized and will eventually be turned into fuel for commercial nuclear power plants. The remainder was mixed with glass and will eventually be shipped to a geological repository, presumably Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

- 3,700 containers of plutonium residue: Some was placed in storage containers to eventually be turned into nuclear reactor fuel; some was mixed with glass to be shipped out of state; and less radioactive quantities already were shipped to an out-of-state burial ground.

- 3,800 gallons americium/curium: Mixed with glass and placed in canisters that will be shipped away.

"The important thing here is that a large fraction of this stuff is leaving Savannah River Site and leaving South Carolina," John Dickenson, Washington Savannah River Co.'s deputy chief engineer for management and operations, said in a telephone interview.

The DOE and Washington Savannah River Co. also announced Wednesday that 20,000 drums of transuranic waste - solid materials that came in contact with radioactive substances but that are less harmful - have been shipped out of SRS.

SRS has disposed of about 5,500 cubic meters of the original 11,800-cubic meters of waste it was dealing with. Officials said that at the current rate, the site will get rid of the remaining quantities by 2012, a dozen years sooner than originally estimated.

Reach Josh Gelinas at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or josh.gelinas@augustachronicle.com.



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