Just as doctors use lead to shield patients from x-rays, Savannah River Site uses utilizes lead to protect workers from radiation. The most recent shipment of lead came from activities in High Level Waste Tank Farm where it was molded around process piping and used to shield other equipment to protect workers from radioactivity.
Lead that cannot be sent for commercial recycling is required to be disposed of at a designated off-site waste processing and disposal facility, where it must be treated to reduce environmental hazards and buried, requiring long-term surveillance and monitoring.
The lead we are sending out for processing means more than just waste reduction at SRS; we are sending the material to be reused. We are reducing high disposal fees at waste disposal sites, said John Harley, a Savannah River Nuclear Solutions engineer.
With the help of Recovery Act funding, SRS hopes to accelerate the number of offsite shipments of process wastes while consolidating excess materials currently stored at the sites periphery. Such efforts will allow earlier closure of outlying areas with a goal to achieve a more-than 45 percent reduction of the sites operational footprint by late 2011.