RICHLAND, Wash. – As the Hanford Site prepares for the start of operations to treat tank waste for disposal, workers are upgrading a number of facilities to ensure they are ready to support around-the-clock operations.
At the 242-A Evaporator, workers are upgrading equipment used to remove water from tank waste and systems that transfer waste to and from large, underground tanks near the facility. The upgrades will also extend the evaporator facility’s service life.
“Using the evaporator to create waste storage space in the double-shell tanks allows us to continue to retrieve waste from single-shell tanks and strategically stage waste for the next era of cleanup at Hanford, treating tank waste via the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste Program,” said Delmar Noyes, EM Office of River Protection (ORP) assistant manager for Tank Farms.
Located in Hanford’s 200 East Area near underground storage tanks and the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, the evaporator boils waste at low pressure in steam heat to evaporate water from the waste. The resulting waste slurry is transferred back to a nearby double-shell tank farm, known as AW, for continued safe storage. The evaporated water is filtered and transferred to Hanford’s nearby Effluent Treatment Facility for additional treatment and disposal.
ORP tank operations contractor Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) has installed new waste transfer piping connections, called nozzles, in the AW Farm and the evaporator facility. To minimize worker exposure to radiation while installing nozzles at the evaporator, workers drilled through 22-inch-thick reinforced concrete walls that provide shielding from outside the building. Now, workers are making progress on the next phase of the project, installing new, double-walled waste transfer lines.
“Work is now focused on excavating trenches that are up to seven feet deep in some areas between the AW Farm and the evaporator, and welding together sections of transfer lines. In all, workers will install more than 1,200 feet of transfer lines,” said Dustin May, project manager for WRPS.
The project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2022, well ahead of the projected start date of tank waste treatment operations.
-Contributor: Mark McKenna
Savannah River Remediation (SRR) made significant improvements to the Saltstone Hopper Overflow Container at the Savannah River Site’s Saltstone Production Facility. Pictured is the container’s recovery pump, foreground, with piping and additional new equipment as part of the facility improvements.
AIKEN, S.C. – EM has developed a new, innovative system that reduces both operational downtime and personnel exposure at a key facility in the Savannah River Site (SRS) liquid waste system.
The Saltstone Production Facility (SPF), operated by EM’s liquid waste contractor Savannah River Remediation (SRR), receives decontaminated salt solution sent from the Salt Waste Processing Facility. SPF processes that solution into saltstone grout by mixing the liquid feed with dry materials. The grout is then pumped from SPF to saltstone disposal units, where the saltstone grout solidifies into a monolithic, non-hazardous, and solid low-level form, safe for permanent disposal.
At SPF, an overflow system called the Saltstone Hopper Overflow Container (SHOC) works as a safety feature that collects grout or flush water during instances such as grout pump hose ruptures, hopper overflow, or grout line overpressurization. Previously, any material that exceeded the SHOC capacity flowed into a process room trench that transferred the material to a nearby collection tank. Grout accumulated in the trench would harden and had to be chipped out by hand.
SRR developed and implemented a solution that solved this problem. The team installed a new system to reroute overflow from the SHOC and return the material to the grout line to prevent the material from entering the trench. Changes to the SHOC system included new equipment, such as piping and a recovery pump.
These modifications decrease facility downtime by months, reduce personnel exposure during recovery efforts and increase automation in plant response.
Jim Folk, DOE-Savannah River assistant manager for waste disposition, said strengthening SPF with the SHOC modifications will allow EM to continue its critical liquid waste mission.
“The Saltstone Production Facility is an important piece in the overall liquid waste system,” Folk said. “It is vital that the plant is running at its optimum capacity, especially now that it is receiving waste output from the Salt Waste Processing Facility.”
The innovations to the SHOC design, coupled with intensive maintenance over the last four years, are prime examples of SRR’s core values of continuous improvement and teamwork in action, according to Mark Schmitz, SRR chief operating officer and deputy project manager.
“The improvements made to the Saltstone Hopper Overflow Container demonstrate an impressive blend of expert design and skillful labor,” Schmitz said. “The improved system not only mitigates risk to the facility, but it also removes a significant burden on our maintenance and operations crews.”
-Contributor: Colleen Hart
Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) cleanup contractor UCOR partnered with the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) in the U.K. to study new technologies and methods to remove cesium and strontium from wastewater at the Process Waste Treatment Complex (PWTC) at ORNL.
Working with their U.K. peers, UCOR employees benchmarked PWTC operations against those at the Site Ion-Exchange Plant at the Sellafield facility, a nuclear reprocessing plant that has operated in the U.K. for more than 40 years. The technical information and lessons exchanged have been significant for both parties.
“This is just the latest great example of how important engagement is with our international partners to move the cleanup mission forward,” said Joceline Nahigian, director of EM’s Office of Intergovernmental and Stakeholder Programs. “This most recent collaboration is well timed as we move toward renewing the agreement allowing for continued engagement with the U.K. team to enable cleanup activities.”
After UCOR implemented the recommendations from the collaboration, the PWTC has operated consistently for periods of more than 90 days compared with just a few days at a time before the changes were made.
“Thanks to the input from the U.K. team, we have been able to triple our operating time while achieving more consistent, effluent numbers,” UCOR System Engineer Jason Jeansonne said. “This improvement in performance has eliminated previous day-to-day operating concerns and allowed us to focus attention on permanent improvements in the ion-exchange approach.”
In addition to the operational benefits at Oak Ridge, Sellafield Ltd. and NNL also gained useful insight into the challenges being faced and the information gleaned will be useful in helping to identify ion-exchange resins that could potentially be used to support Sellafield Ltd. cleanup operations in the future. Discussions in this area are ongoing as testing and operations at Oak Ridge continue to progress. Sellafield Ltd. is the company tasked with cleaning up the Sellafield site.
Approximately 90 million gallons of wastewater are generated by research and cleanup operations at ORNL annually. That water is collected and treated in the PWTC system.
Known as Liquid and Gaseous Waste Operations, the overarching infrastructure consists of numerous interconnected facilities that support crucial waste treatment activities for EM and the DOE Office of Science. UCOR recently supported EM’s plan to reduce the cost of treating wastewater by consolidating capabilities into a single facility.
Due to its age and deteriorated condition, Building 3544, the PWTC facility that treated radiological waste, presented one of the largest risks. The building had served as a radiological wastewater treatment facility for more than four decades. It housed an older zeolite treatment system designed to remove cesium and strontium from wastewater. Zeolite is a naturally-occurring mineral formed from volcanic ash which can strip contaminants from wastewater.
OREM installed a new zeolite treatment system in Building 3608 that consolidates treatment of both radiological and non-radiological waste into one facility rather than two. The consolidation allowed EM and UCOR to shut down Building 3544 and prepare it for decommissioning and demolition.
-Contributor: Ben Rivera
AIKEN, S.C. – EM and it’s liquid waste contractor at the Savannah River Site (SRS) have developed a unique commercial mixer pump to use in a tank with space limitations, allowing waste retrieval efforts to advance in the tank farms.
Savannah River Remediation (SRR) currently uses commercial submersible mixer pumps (CSMPs) as the primary mixing device for waste retrieval in the majority of the tanks. The tank waste, composed of salt and sludge, needs to be mixed with water to allow the waste to be moved between tanks via transfer pumps and lines.
Typically, four CSMPs are used in each tank based on each pump’s nozzle discharge reach, known as the effective cleaning radius. The pumps are inserted into the tank through riser openings at the top of waste tanks. However, in Tank 33, cooling coils are deployed in the openings, limiting the space for the pumps to be inserted. Other tanks have internally built cooling coils that do not limit the number of access riser openings in a tank.
For this reason, SRR designed an enhanced version of the mixer pumps specifically for Tank 33. It will provide a 50-foot effective cleaning radius within the tank versus the 29-foot radius provided by the regular CSMPs. The longer effective cleaning radius decreases the number of pumps from four to three that are needed during the bulk waste removal process.
The enhanced CSMP is the first-of-its-kind pump developed for SRR, according to Mark Schmitz, SRR chief operating officer and deputy project manager.
“The successful implementation of the enhanced mixer pump is essential for the current strategy of bulk waste removal in Tank 33,” Schmitz said. “Once proven successful in Tank 33, SRR could deploy enhanced pumps in similar tanks.”
Tank 33 is one of six waste tanks currently undergoing waste removal efforts, which advances EM’s mission of waste tank closure, according to DOE-Savannah River Assistant Manager for Waste Disposition Jim Folk.
“Removing waste from aging waste tanks continues to be one of the Department’s top priorities because each tank emptied reduces the risk posed to the community and environment,” Folk said. “The development of innovative solutions to continue waste retrieval efforts when faced with infrastructure or operational challenges is key to our long-term success.”
The enhanced CSMP was developed by a small business named GPM, Inc.
-Source: EM Update Vol 13 Issue 40
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Members of EM leadership recently visited Catholic University’s Vitreous State Laboratory (VSL), a contributor to key innovations in the vitrification technology central to Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) in Washington state.
EM Acting Assistant Secretary William “Ike” White, EM Associate Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Nicole Nelson-Jean, and EM Chief Engineer Robert Crosby toured the VSL facility and received updates about its various labs and projects that support the safe immobilization of nuclear waste at DOE sites, including the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina.
Over the years, the VSL and Atkins Nuclear Secured team have helped EM continually improve efficiency in melter design and operation. VSL and Atkins have also introduced technology solutions that will avoid billions in lifecycle costs at Hanford, SRS, and the Rokkasho Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Facility in Japan.
VSL has consistently provided technology solutions to Hanford’s WTP program since 1994 through a successful university-industry partnership with Atkins. The partners were the primary contributors to the WTP vitrification development program and initiated the WTP low-activity and high-level radioactive waste loading and melt rate enhancement program with EM’s Office of River Protection in 2003. Vitrification involves turning high-level radioactive waste into a glass form by blending it with glass-forming materials and heating it to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Atkins Nuclear Secured Chief Operating Officer Jack Craig and Atkins Engineering and Technology Senior Vice President Brad Bowan hosted White, Nelson-Jean, and Crosby. During the visit, VSL Director and Physics Professor Ian Pegg discussed the usage of vitrification, provided a glass pouring demonstration, and gave a tour of the DuraMelter facilities, home to the largest test melter in the U.S. The group also made stops at the glass leaching, analytical, and nanotechnology laboratories.
VSL and Atkins also assist DOE and the nuclear industry in the fields of robotics and emerging digital technologies. White, Nelson-Jean, and Crosby viewed a demonstration of the Spot quadruped robot, which is being developed to help insulate workers from environmental hazards during routine inspections and surveys.
VSL is widely recognized as a center of excellence in glass science and technology. The laboratory’s experts have developed processes to more efficiently transform highly radioactive nuclear waste into stable glass that can be disposed safely. The center provides support to various nuclear facilities in the U.S., Japan, and United Kingdom.
-Source: EM Update Vol 13, Issue 39
-Contributor: Lee Tucker
RICHLAND, Wash. – DOE awarded four financial assistance grants, totaling approximately $33.5 million, to Oregon and Washington state last week. The non-competitive grants support environmental response regulatory activities, emergency preparedness, and public information programs related to the Hanford Site.
DOE awarded Washington state three grants totaling approximately $29.1 million for regulatory oversight and emergency preparedness for the next five years, from Oct. 1, 2021 to Sept. 30, 2026. The funding supports the following activities:
Oregon was awarded one grant totaling approximately $4.4 million for technical review of Hanford and public information activities for the next five years, from Oct. 1, 2021 to Sept. 30, 2026. This includes administering the Oregon Hanford Cleanup Board that discusses Hanford cleanup. The award also funds emergency preparedness planning related to Hanford.
All four grants are for fiscal years 2022 through 2026.
Source: EM Update Vol. 13
CARLSBAD, N.M. – EM’s main contractor at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) helped fund two centers for an area school district where students can stretch their imaginations while honing their science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills by exploring electric circuit boards, tiny robots, and other unique gadgets.
Each Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation STEM Center mobile laboratory comes equipped with innovative classroom kits full of STEM toys designed to inspire lifelong interest in STEM. Students can learn how to build a circuit to motor fans, power lights, or even charge phones. The Evo Ozobots are electronic circuit robots about the size of a coffee pod that follow hand-drawn or computer-printed color diagrams to encourage students to code creatively. The centers are also outfitted with 3D printers and printer supplies.
Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP) was one of three major employers in southeastern New Mexico that helped fund the STEM centers at Jefferson and Sanger elementary schools for Hobbs Municipal Schools earlier this year. The two other employers are oil-producing companies Devon Energy and EOG Resources.
“We want the children in our state, and especially in our region, to have access to the best learning tools available for STEM education,” said Sean Dunagan, NWP president and project manager. “Centers like these foster a passion for science and math and we are proud to contribute to opening the STEM centers at Jefferson and Sanger elementary schools.”
Continue reading at https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDOEOEM/bulletins/2f58db7#link_2
Source: EM Update Vol 13
The Savannah River Site's "By the Numbers" features facts and figures about cleanup and more.
EM has updated its popular “By the Numbers” feature, which illustrates cleanup progress at EM sites through quick and clear infographics.
Facts and figures on each major EM site, plus the Savannah River National Laboratory, can be found here. Each site page also features a key look forward to an anticipated achievement over the next decade, as described in more detail in the Strategic Vision 2021-2031, a blueprint to the program’s anticipated accomplishments over the next decade that will protect the public and environment.
Some tidbits from the new “By the Numbers:”
Workers with EM contractor Central Plateau Cleanup Company recently packaged and transferred the first shipment of contaminated filter media from the K West Reactor fuel storage basin for safe interim storage at T Plant on the Hanford Site.
RICHLAND, Wash. – EM’s Richland Operations Office (RL) and contractor Central Plateau Cleanup Company have safely packaged and shipped the first engineered container of highly contaminated filter media from the K West Reactor spent fuel storage basin to T Plant on the Hanford Site.
The complex project required workers to design a system to remotely access 6-foot-tall filter vessels enclosed behind an 18-inch-thick concrete shield wall. The remote system allows operators to remove and place the hazardous material safely in the shielded containers for transport out of the basin. The filter media was used to remove radionuclides from the water in the 1.2-million-gallon basin during fuel packaging operations.
Crews will transfer the filter media to T Plant in three separate shipments for safe interim storage away from the Columbia River, with the final shipment expected in August. The work follows the successful removal and transfer of radioactive fuel sludge in September 2019.
Removal of the contaminated material will allow workers to dispose of the filter system safely during demolition of the facility.
“The safe containment and transport of the contaminated filter media is another key step toward removing water from and demolishing the basin,” said Mark French, RL project and facilities division director. “Our teams continue to make excellent progress on this critical risk-reduction project.”
-Contributor: Dieter Bohrmann-Source: EM News
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