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
The Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) and cleanup contractor UCOR recently backfilled and contoured a 21-acre section of the area previously used as a scrapyard. EM removed the 50,000 tons of scrap metal and contaminated soil there more than a decade ago.
The recently completed project directs stormwater to wetlands and the nearby Clinch River. Transforming and recontouring the site, which is proposed for recreational development, required more than 6,000 truckloads of backfill and 2,000 truckloads of topsoil.
The project follows a similar one earlier this year in which workers placed a 2-foot soil cover on an adjacent 9-acre area that housed oil tanks also associated with the former powerhouse. Employees used an innovative GPS system on both projects to ensure appropriate soil placement and contouring.
“UCOR’s workforce again has proved that they are some of the most hardworking and innovative individuals that perform this type of cleanup work,” said Hoss Brown, enterprise manager for Heritage Center, which is the former ETTP site. “I am grateful to be associated with this workforce.”
Given the large amount of soil required to complete the latest project on the 21-acre site, employees identified an innovative approach to avoid costs and enhance efficiency. They graded down a nearby ridge to access soil for recontouring. This approach eliminated costs associated with buying soil, enhanced efficiency by using trucks from UCOR opposed to an outside vendor, and created more useable acreage by reducing the grade of the adjacent ridge.
As with EM’s other soil remediation projects at ETTP, completing this effort enables EM to transfer land from federal ownership for reuse by the community.
Last year, EM finished demolishing all former buildings at ETTP, the former Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Several excavation projects are underway to remove contaminated soil from various locations at the site and replace it with clean dirt — resulting in property available for industrial and recreational development. The powerhouse powered early operations at the former uranium enrichment site.
The latest remediation efforts are some of the final stages needed to reach EM’s vision for the site as a multi-use industrial center, national park, and conservation area.
-Contributor: Wayne McKinney
-Source: EM Update
Crews move equipment used to inspect drums holding radioactive material into a storage site in K Area at the Savannah River Site.
AIKEN, S.C. – EM workers at the Savannah River Site (SRS) are setting the stage to accelerate the removal and disposal of plutonium from South Carolina.
They recently finished transferring equipment used to inspect drums holding the radioactive material from the site’s Solid Waste Management Facility (SWMF) to the K Area Criticality Control Overpack Characterization and Storage Pad. Characterization and shipping activities will be consolidated at that storage facility.
“The transfer of this equipment was no easy task,” DOE Nuclear Materials Senior Technical Advisor Maxcine Maxted said. “Weighing over 70,000 pounds and at 40 feet long, many departments had to be involved in the safe transport.”
Maxted said moving the equipment to K Area will allow SRS to eliminate the step of sending the drums to SWMF for characterization and shipment to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico for final disposition.
“Now we can perform both of those tasks right from K Area, making the process more efficient,” Maxted said.
The relocated equipment includes an X-ray system that enables operators to inspect the contents of drums without opening them. The drums were developed to safely package and transport materials such as the downblended plutonium in the K Area that goes to WIPP for disposition. The downblended plutonium has been determined to be surplus to the nation’s defense needs.
“WIPP has specific standards for the type of materials allowed in their underground repository,” DOE-Savannah River Waste Disposition Programs Division Director Sonitza Blanco said. “The examination is performed under the certified Central Characterization Program, which is managed by the personnel from the managing and operating contractor of WIPP, Nuclear Waste Partnership. It verifies and validates that the waste within each container matches the documentation provided by SRS and that it does not contain any WIPP prohibited items.”
Following the inspection, employees ensure the contents of the drums are within radioactive limits. Next, the drums are certified for shipment to WIPP and loaded into a larger sealed container before leaving K Area.
The K Area storage facility will add capacity to store over 3,800 drums awaiting shipment. Construction is scheduled for completion later this year. After the storage facility is complete, DOE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will conduct regulatory reviews prior to WIPP authorizing the first shipment planned for 2022.
Workers also have completed extensive facility modifications and equipment upgrades at K Area to perform plutonium downblend more efficiently.
-Contributor: Lindsey MonBarren
RICHLAND, Wash. – An EM Office of River Protection (ORP) contractor team has finished creating almost 5,500 step-by-step procedures required for operation of Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) systems and facilities needed for Hanford’s Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) approach to tank waste treatment.
The team of prime contractor Bechtel National, Inc. and subcontractor Waste Treatment Completion Company (WTCC) developed the bulk of the procedures for 119 systems, with 37 abnormal operating procedures and six emergency operating procedures covering potential events such as high winds, wildfire, or security issues.
DFLAW is a system of interdependent projects and infrastructure improvements, managed and highly integrated as a program, that must operate together to vitrify, or immobilize within glass, Hanford tank waste.
“Completing operating procedures is the catalyst for training plant staff before we start up the first melter in the Low-Activity Waste Facility,” said Mat Irwin, ORP deputy assistant manager for the plant. “This accomplishment makes it possible for the training department to develop scenarios and train operations staff; the commissioning team to develop work packages; and the operations team to follow procedures for running systems and managing the plant.”
A pair of 300-ton melters will use electricity to heat tank waste and glass-forming materials to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit. The molten mixture will be poured into large stainless-steel containers that will be sealed and transported to Hanford’s nearby Integrated Disposal Facility.
The WTCC Technical Procedures Department is a group of 35 experienced writers who work with teams across the plant to review and approve procedures. The department’s collaboration with engineering, operations, safety, and many other departments was key to continuously improving and issuing the procedures on time.
“Most of our team has both U.S. Navy and commercial nuclear experience,” said Shavon Asselin, WTCC operations procedures manager. “Their experience played a major role in completing this goal. I'm proud to be a part of such a driven and talented team.”
The WTP facilities can be viewed using the self-guided Hanford Virtual Tour.
-Contributor: Sheila Gideon
CARLSBAD, N.M. – EM’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) has conducted an initial short-duration test of its ventilation fan known as 700-C — the first step toward restarting the system to help provide additional airflow in the underground waste repository.
“Based on preliminary data, the 700-C fan initial test has been successfully completed,” EM Carlsbad Field Office Manager Reinhard Knerr said. “The eventual restart of this fan is very important to improve underground working conditions and fully support the DOE’s operational mission.”
EM and WIPP management and operations contractor Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP) are analyzing the test data and will make available the full results once the analysis is complete. A follow-up virtual public meeting will then be held to discuss the findings. Data will be posted to the 700-C webpage as soon as it is available. Once the data had been evaluated and accepted, WIPP will move forward to return the 700-C fan to full operation.Sean Dunagan, NWP president and project manager, said the WIPP team was pleased to have finished the four-hour 700-C fan test.
“Most importantly, throughout testing, protective measures were in place that ensured the safety of our employees and the community, which is our top priority,” Dunagan said.Those measures included specific weather criteria that had to be met, which resulted in some delays in completion of the test. During testing, air monitoring activities were conducted by NWP and the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center, an independent organization managed by New Mexico State University-Carlsbad. Out of an abundance of caution, only personnel involved in the testing, and essential safety and security personnel were allowed onsite. The 700-C fan has been thoroughly inspected to ensure its operational safety.“This is a great first step toward restart of the 700-C fan,” said Rick Fuentes, United Steelworkers Local 12-9477 president, representing the bargaining unit employees. “The improved airflow that will result from restart will greatly benefit the health and safety of the workforce at WIPP.”
-Contributor: Victoria Parker
-Contributor: EM Update Newsletter
LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – The EM Los Alamos Field Office (EM-LA) and cleanup contractor N3B have been shipping hundreds of containers of purged well water and other materials from sites across Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) for offsite disposal in recent months.
Since September, crews have shipped more than 211,000 gallons of purged well water and drilling fluids, along with nearly 100 cubic yards of petroleum-contaminated soil and run-of-the-mill industrial materials linked to past LANL operations. Those materials include residual drill cuttings and pipes leftover from installing wells.
The purged well water is stagnant water removed from monitoring wells before sampling — a process that ensures samples are representative of actual aquifer conditions, including potential contamination.
With about 260,000 gallons of the well water stored in tanks across LANL sites, crews found a lack of available holding tanks that could impact cleanup operations, especially where EM-LA operates a treatment system for chromium-contaminated groundwater beneath LANL.
Shipment of the well water began with about 32,000 gallons, or eight truckloads, leaving Mortandad Canyon each week.
Other materials being dispositioned include hazardous preservatives once used to safeguard stormwater samples during transport to analytical laboratories, in addition to low-level radiological waste, such as pit liners used during well installation to contain drill cuttings with trace levels of man-made radionuclides.
“Along with operations being impeded if we didn’t remove these materials, their disposition was critical to upholding our environmental stewardship mission,” said Erik Loechell, a program manager with N3B. “We don’t want that waste getting into the environment.”
The materials are slated for shipment for offsite disposal by August this year. About 170 cubic yards of solid waste and 30,000 gallons of well water are also scheduled for disposal by August.
Prior to shipment, the materials are being stored in safe configurations, with solid waste primarily kept in lined and sealed containers and well water stored in tanks routinely monitored for structural integrity.
-Contributor: Kate Keenan
-Source: EM Update Newsletter
Florida International University has successfully completed a Design & Development of Convolutional AutoEncoder algorithm to identify cracks in D&D mock-up facility. This task supports structural health monitoring of D&D facility to identify cracks and structural defects for surveillance and maintenance. Structural health monitoring is imperative to the ongoing surveillance and maintenance (S&M) across the DOE complex. Deep Learning algorithms provide state-of-start technologies capable of facilitating the assessment of structural integrity in aging nuclear facilities. The FIU team has implemented a robust solution for anomaly detection as part of the structural health monitoring system.
The anomalies are defects (cracks) on D&D concrete structures . The proposed architecture uses a Convolutional AutoEncoder (CAE) – deep learning approach followed by an image post processing routine to generate an anomaly heat map of the predicted defects in the input images. This approach provides a robust solution by training on defect-free wall images for anomaly detection in an unsupervised learning manner.
In this paper, we have proposed a semi-supervised based anomaly detection mechanism, which
involves a convolutional auto-encoder, to facilitate the structural healthcare monitoring of DOE
infrastructure. In this regard, the cracks and spalling are considered as the anomalies on the
concrete structures, whereas the normal/healthy surfaces of the concrete structures are considered
and grouped as the normal class. We employ an unsupervised learning methodology for training
the model, as it only takes the normal class image datasets as its input data. After the model is
trained, the proposed “semi-supervised” anomaly detection approach does not require any prior
knowledge of the concrete defects. It traces the possible anomalies/defects with the least
involvement of the domain experts.
Click link below to read full paper.
Task 6 - Structural Health Monitoring Deliverable_2020_P3_D2_Report_FINAL.pdf
The FIU students join current fellows in the university’s Science & Technology Workforce Development Program, also known as the DOE Fellows program. An additional FIU STEM student was inducted as a DOE Office of Legacy Management (LM) Fellow.
Undergraduate and graduate minority STEM students at FIU are usually welcomed into the program annually in a ceremony hosted at FIU’s Modesto Maidique campus. This year, due to health and safety concerns in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was held virtually.
The Fellows program strives to attract, train, and retain the next-generation workforce in nuclear, engineering, science, and construction fields to assist in addressing EM's many long-term scientific and basic research needs, and complex cleanup challenges.
Students in the Fellows program work with DOE scientists and researchers at FIU’s Applied Research Center (ARC) — which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year — to learn about EM and LM technical areas of need.
In an address during the ceremony, EM Associate Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Nicole Nelson-Jean reflected on her experience in a similar mentorship program, which helped steer her on the path to a successful federal government career.
Nelson-Jean stressed the importance of such programs to the environmental missions of EM and LM. She commended the DOE Fellows program’s success stories, highlighting former DOE Fellows hired by DOE and its national laboratories, including EM’s Savannah River National Laboratory.
Gisselle Gutierrez-Zuniga, who was inducted into the program last year as an undergraduate student, delivered a message to the new Fellows highlighting her personal experience, which she found fulfilling academically and professionally. Also participating was LM Director Carmelo Melendez, who delivered a keynote address to the new DOE Fellows.
Since its inception in 2007, the Fellows program has inducted 179 STEM students mentored in research, development, and deployment of new cleanup technologies. The Fellows program has resulted in a 95% hiring rate for students who complete the program, including three Fellows hired by DOE, nine by DOE contractors or national laboratories, 19 hired by other government agencies, and 74 hired by the STEM industry.
“FIU continues to train and mentor future leaders,” said DOE Fellows Director Dr. Leonel Lagos, the DOE-FIU Cooperative Agreement’s principal investigator. “This program provides the opportunity for many first-generation students to complete their degrees at FIU, obtain hands-on research and work experience, and participate in internships across the DOE complex.”
-Contributors: Ravi Gudavalli, Angelique Lawrence, Genia McKinley
Copyright 2014 D&D KM-IT.