Tritium is a heavy radioactive isotope of hydrogen that can replace ordinary hydrogen in light water or deuterium in heavy water, and occurs both naturally and in small amounts during the operation of nuclear power plants. Tritiated water molecules cannot be separated from light or heavy water by conventional filtration since all water molecules behave very similarly.
Water containing very low levels of tritium and other radioactive substances is normally released from nuclear power plants under tightly controlled and monitored conditions. Pressurised heavy water reactors - Candus - produce significantly more tritium than most other types of reactors owing to the use of heavy water (deuterium) in the moderator and heat transport system. Facilities to remove tritium from heavy water from Candu reactors currently operate at Darlington in Canada and Wolsong in South Korea.
Laker says its AWD technology exploits the latest advances in water distillation equipment design and configuration, and in testing has already achieved a five-fold equipment height reduction and 80% energy consumption reduction over conventional water distillation. The process operates under benign conditions of purified warm water under vacuum, which eliminates the possibility of chronic leakage and associated environmental emissions, it says.
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Posiva – the Finnish waste management company, has laid the foundation stone for the used fuel encapsulation plant Onkalo, at Olkiluoto, with construction scheduled for completion in 2022.
Construction of the world’s first permanent underground nuclear storage facility (costing an estimated EUR500 million (US$550 million) began in 2016 and once complete, it will store up to 6,500 tons of waste. Operation of the repository is expected to begin in 2023.
Used fuel will be packed inside copper-steel canisters at the above-ground encapsulation plant, then transferred into the underground repository, located at a depth of 400-450 meters.
“Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (a joint owner of Posiva) has been working and doing research on the final disposal of nuclear fuel since the late 1970s,” Posiva Communications Manager Pasi Tuohimaa told Nuclear Energy Insider.
“The used fuel needs to be cooled down in temporary storage for at least 40 years, so the first moment to start final disposal is now.
“Posiva was established in 1995, when the Finnish law changed so no used nuclear fuel is allowed to be brought in to Finland or taken out. The other owner of Posiva, Fortum, had transported its used nuclear fuel to Russia prior to that.”
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RICHLAND, Wash. – One of the Hanford Site’s most critical risk-reduction efforts continues at the Plutonium Finishing Plant’s (PFP) main processing facility.
Since April, workers with EM Richland Operations Office (RL) contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company (CHPRC) have safely removed large sections of the main facility, including two stairwells, several sections of piping, and an associated concrete vault.
This time-lapse video highlights lower-risk demolition completed through mid-July.
Demolition resumed after crews finished removing debris that had been on the ground since December 2017, when work stopped after a spread of low levels of contamination. Since September 2018, crews with CHPRC have safely packaged and transferred nearly 7,000 tons of debris to Hanford’s onsite regulated landfill.
Demolition of the remaining lower-risk portions of the main processing facility is expected to be completed by the end of August and is being done under a revised demolition strategy and safety controls implemented last fall.
“PFP demolition continues to be a high priority, and I am encouraged by the safe and steady progress,” said Tom Teynor, RL project director. “The enhanced safety measures in place since lower-risk activities resumed nearly a year ago have proved effective in protecting workers, the environment, and the public.”
This animation shows the revised demolition approach and enhanced controls, reflecting worker input. Pauses are built into the schedule to review lessons learned and incorporate additional input before proceeding.
“The physical progress on this project is really exciting to see,” said Jason Casper, CHPRC vice president for the PFP closure project. “I’m proud of our team’s continued focus on safety over speed.”
RL continues to post weekly updates on PFP activities here.
-Contributor: Dieter Bohrmann
-Credit: EM Update Newsletter
AIKEN, S.C. – EM, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and the management and operations contractor at the Savannah River Site are partnering to reduce radiological exposure, improve efficiency, and align with long-term DOE plutonium downblending goals at the site’s K Area Complex.
“K Area is ramping up its capabilities in order to meet the needs of DOE,” Savannah River Nuclear Solutions Facility Manager Steve Wilkerson said. “We are moving from one-shift to two-shift operations, with the plan of being at four shifts by 2021.”
Plutonium downblending is the process of mixing plutonium oxide with an inert material. The material will then be shipped to an out-of-state repository for disposition as waste. All plutonium downblending takes place inside a K Area stainless-steel glovebox with safety glass panels and fitted glove-port openings. The glovebox shields workers from hazards while allowing for contaminated materials handling.
Employee improvements to the glovebox include:
Employees completed training in the updated procedures in a newly built mock-up of the glovebox, which is housed in a non-contaminated environment. The mock-up is made of aluminum, making it sturdier than the previous wooden one.
“We are on track to have process optimization complete by spring of 2020,” DOE Nuclear Materials Manager Maxcine Maxted said. “These improvements required a lot of planning and work to complete, but will result in a safer, more efficient process.”
NNSA is in the design phase of its surplus plutonium disposition project, which will add three additional gloveboxes to the K Area, increasing plutonium downblending capacity and expediting the removal of plutonium from South Carolina.
-Contributor: Lindsey MonBarren
OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – EM’s cleanup contractor at the Oak Ridge Site is helping develop the next generation of workers by leading or collaborating on numerous programs to ensure future cleanup is met with a capable, safety-conscious workforce.
UCOR President and CEO discussed those efforts under way at the 1,800-employee company during an address at the 2019 East Tennessee Workforce Summit last week.
“Even though UCOR will complete major cleanup at ETTP (East Tennessee Technology Park) next year, we realize that much more cleanup will be required here in Oak Ridge and across the nation,” Rueter said. “Because of that continuing need for workers, we are committed to cultivating the next generation of cleanup workers.”
EM has created new economic development opportunities by cleaning and transferring land at ETTP. However, much more work remains to remove all of the old, hazardous infrastructure at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Y-12 National Security Complex, which will enhance safety and clear the way for mission growth at these crucial research and national defense sites.
UCOR’s comprehensive workforce development approach begins in elementary schools and continues through higher education, technical training, and apprenticeships.
The company has invested more than $150,000 in local elementary, middle, and high schools to fund science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education projects in classrooms.
UCOR partnered with United Steelworkers to offer hazardous waste operations and emergency response training to high school students in the region, providing the students credentials that will help them find work in the hazardous waste cleanup industry.
At the collegiate level, UCOR collaborated with the University of Tennessee’s nuclear engineering department to offer the first nuclear decommissioning and environmental management minor degree at a university or college in the U.S. UCOR has hired several recent graduates with that minor degree. UCOR also is collaborating with Roane State Community College on a chemical operators program.
A collaborative effort with the North America's Building Trades Unions and the Cooperative Agreement of Labor and Management led to the East Tennessee Apprenticeship Readiness Program. UCOR sponsored the program’s inaugural classes, and the 48 graduates were offered employment in the Oak Ridge area, many by UCOR.
The company’s summer internship program pairs college students from across the nation with mentors. Several participants pursued careers at UCOR after completing their internships.
Within UCOR, the Rising Senior Leaders Program gives a boost to future leaders. It is UCOR’s signature 12-month development program for leaders who show great potential to rise to upper level leadership positions.
“We have had great success in our cleanup work in Oak Ridge, bringing in projects ahead of schedule and under budget, and most importantly, completing them safely,” Rueter said. “We are proud to have so many partnerships with other organizations, as well as providing our own sponsorship, to keep alive the legacy of safe, effective cleanup and environmental risk reduction at the Oak Ridge Reservation.”
-Contributor: Wayne McKinney
OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Nearly 20 employees from DOE’s offices of EM and Science supported a local middle school’s first science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) night, which attracted more than 800 students and their family members.
Jefferson Middle School’s recent event provided the students and families the opportunity to learn and have fun. Organizers designed activities to share ideas, resources, and opportunities in the STEM fields. Those fields are central to the technical work occurring in DOE’s Oak Ridge operations, which employ about 12,000 people and have a $5.6 billion economic impact in Tennessee.
Many local organizations partnered with the school for the STEM night to enable the students to explore different aspects of STEM, including 3-D printing, laser scanning, radiation detection, virtual reality, drones, and CO2-powered race cars.
DOE Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) employees gave students an entertaining hands-on lesson on building lava lamps using vegetable oil, water, food coloring, and effervescent antacid. Others participated in the DOE Career Café, where students shared interests, learned about careers, and asked questions of OREM’s scientists, engineers, and technicians.
“Community involvement is incredibly important to us as an organization, and we are continuously looking for opportunities for our employees to interact with students in local schools,” OREM Manager Jay Mullis said. “This event provided an excellent environment for students to have some fun and learn how diverse and exciting STEM careers can be.”
“We are proud to represent Oak Ridge and bring the entire community together to further the STEM possibilities for our students, and the Department of Energy plays a vital role in this endeavor,” Goldberg said.
Oak Ridge was the second school district in the U.S. to have each of its elementary, middle, and high schools fully STEM-accredited and certified.
Mullis appreciated the opportunity to engage the students at this stage of their education at the STEM event.
“We work to introduce them to new, exciting ideas and make them aware of the options available to them,” he said. “It is an investment in our future. One day, some of these kids may be responsible for leading our program and achieving Oak Ridge’s cleanup mission.”
-Contributor: Ben Williams
AIKEN, S.C. – EM’s cleanup contractor at the Savannah River Site (SRS) is benefiting from a new recruitment strategy to fill much-needed positions in industrial health and safety.
“Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) must have qualified health and safety professionals to achieve our missions. To stay ahead of our critical need, we spearheaded partnerships with accredited post-secondary schools to bring us face to face with upcoming graduates looking to start meaningful careers,” SRNS Health and Safety Manager Cindy Lunsford said.
Over two days late last year, SRNS health and safety professionals discussed career opportunities and presented an overview of SRS and the surrounding area to occupational safety and health students at Murray State University (MSU) in Murray, Kentucky. They also met one on one with the students.
SRNS offered employment to a qualified candidate while at MSU, and since returning to SRS, the team has received applications from other MSU students.
The recruitment team is exploring use of this strategy at other universities in Alabama, North Carolina, and Florida.
-Contributor: Caroline Reppert
The Pipe Crawler, which can be activated by a smart phone, can travel through the air supply line that leads to the central plenum of the tanks at Hanford. This robot, featured at the Waste Management Symposia 2018, provides information regarding the health of the tank floor around the center of the tank. The crawler’s movement mimics that of an inchworm and can navigate through several 90-degree elbows, reducers, and vertical runs. It also houses a camera for video feedback.
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Researchers from the Applied Research Center (ARC) at Florida International University (FIU) are continuing their efforts to collect timeseries data from the Tims Branch watershed at Savannah River Site (SRS) in support of ongoing surface water and contaminant transport modeling research being performed at FIU. Two DOE Fellows, Ron Hariprashad and Juan Morales, who are both FIU graduate students participating in the DOE-FIU Science and Technology Workforce Development Program, successfully deployed two HOBO RX3000 3G remote monitoring stations which record streamwater data that can be translated into flow rates. One unit was installed along the A-014 outfall tributary near its confluence with the main Tims Branch stream, and a second unit was installed downstream of Steed Pond along Tims Branch near its confluence with Upper Three Runs.
Ron, who participated in a student internship at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL) in the summer of 2017 and plans to develop a hydrological model of surface water-groundwater interaction in the Tims Branch watershed as part of his master’s thesis, stated upon his return to FIU, “I believe this was a very successful trip. Everything was on point, from planning to execution.” The success of this effort was in large part due to the support and collaboration of Dr. John Seaman and his research team at SREL, Dr. Brian Looney from the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) and all of the SRS site personnel who assisted with security clearance, permits and RADCON escort.
Juan, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in environmental health sciences, also collected water samples for water quality analysis which will support ongoing monitoring of the Tims Branch system following the implementation of a tin-based remediation technology to address historical low-level mercury contamination in the stream. The water quality data will be used for development and calibration of the contaminant transport component of the model being developed by FIU. Although historical data was available for preliminary development of the flow model, several data gaps were encountered. In order to improve the accuracy of the model, FIU has deployed the HOBO units which will provide near real-time data in an attempt to capture the effect of extreme hydrological events on the stream flow and pollutant transport. Utilization of Tims Branch as a test bed to develop a numerical modeling tool to evaluate hydrological impacts on the fate and transport of major contaminants of concern (e.g., Hg, U, Ni, radionuclides) will be beneficial to SRS, particularly if the tool developed can be applied to other streams at SRS as well as other DOE EM sites.
For additional information, contact Dr. Leonel Lagos (Principal Investigator) at (305) 348-1810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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on the initial success from the recent publication of two new international
standard specifications for fixatives in July 2017, DOE EM and ASTM
International’s E10.03 Subcommittee have embarked on an aggressive strategy to
address shortfalls in uniform testing protocols specifically designed to
provide a set of accepted tools to evaluate and compare the operational
performance of fixative technologies under a variety of safety basis scenarios.
As highlighted by Mr. Andrew Szilagyi, Director for DOE EM’s Office of
Infrastructure and D&D, “There is general acceptance by the community on
the utility of fixatives to immobilize residual contamination and mitigate risk
during D&D activities, but a more formal process needs to be available for
site personnel and regulators to confirm their capabilities. Uniform standards
can play a significant role in this effort.” Researchers from SRNL and Florida
International University’s Applied Research Center (FIU ARC) are also exploring
avenues to better leverage and more fully integrate the standards development
process, and have suggested this initiative could also serve as the basis for
updating the DOE handbook titled, Airborne Release Fractions/Rates and
Respirable Fractions for Nonreactor Nuclear Facilities (DOE-HDBK3010-94,
December 1994), a guiding document in how fixative technologies are credited
towards the source term formula. The source term formula is used to determine
quantities of radioactive material that could potentially be driven airborne
for the purpose of estimating the scope of a potential release from a given
facility or activity. The FIU research efforts are being conducted as part of a
Cooperative Agreement (CA) between the DOE EM and FIU ARC.
The vision of the E10.03 Subcommittee is to promulgate
operationally relevant, uniform testing protocols that can be leveraged by the
various technology innovation and development programs across the nuclear
environmental management community, and support decision makers and end users
with common references in the selection and employment of those standards and
associated technologies. The Subcommittee is initiating the development of
standardized testing protocols for: 1) Determining a fixative’s ability to
immobilize radioactive contamination and measuring its impacts on airborne
release fractions (ARF) and respirable fractions (RF) in the source term
formula when exposed to thermal and seismic stressors, and; 2) Determining the
decontamination factor (DF) of strippable coatings on various substrates. Both
of these objectives are directly aligned with and support DOE EM’s
incombustible fixatives research need, and based on significant feedback
received from the sites and national labs, have been integral in facilitating
the introduction of a designated intumescent coating technology into a
The ASTM International E10.03 Subcommittee will continue
pursuing further testing protocol and standards development for fixatives and
other technology categories associated with D&D, creating consensus based
standards for D&D technologies that are not only aligned with technical
specifications, but also account for the safety, regulatory, and operational
requirements encountered during D&D activities. Addressing existing
shortfalls through standards will provide credibility, yield a significant
return on investment and allow all types of D&D technologies (robotics,
fixatives, characterization, decontamination, demolition, etc.) to be developed,
tested, evaluated and compared to a set of uniformly accepted metrics.
For additional information, contact Mr. Joseph Sinicrope (Research Scientist, FIU ARC) at (305) 348-0084 or email@example.com; Dr. Leonel Lagos (Principal Investigator, FIU ARC) at (305) 348-1810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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