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VITRIFIED HIGH LEVEL LIQUID NUCLEAR WASTE FOR ABOVE GROUND STORAGE TOUTED BY USA

13 Nov 2015

The USA Department of Energy-Office of Environmental Management (DoE/EM) is proud to announce its new process of “Vitrification” for high level Liquid nuclear waste. This news release is difficult to understand fully for most of our readers because of its complexity and omitted information. We have attempted to make it understandable by most people, so please bear with us. Given the magnitude of the world-wide problem of long term disposal of high level nuclear waste, this is an important article.

WEST VALLEY, N.Y. located about 35 miles south of Buffalo. For the first time in U.S. history, High-Level (nuclear) Waste (HLW) was placed in long-term, outdoor storage.   The unprecedented accomplishment occurred in the cleanup at the West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP).   The liquid waste, which has been immobilized in glass in the vitrification process, is being relocated from the site’s main plant process building to an interim storage pad so that pre-demolition activities can take place within the building.    WVDP was once the site of the first and only commercial nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in the U.S; now it is an environmental cleanup and waste management project.

IT HAS BEEN SAID: “SUCCESS HAS MANY FATHERS – FAILURE IS AN ORPHAN”

Bryan Bower EM WVDP Director said: “I could not be more proud of this team…This effort is a culmination of four years’ work to begin the safe removal of the high-level waste canisters from the former reprocessing facility, allowing for the eventual demolition of the building.”

Paul Bembia, Director for NYSERDA’s West Valley Site Management Program said: “The relocation of the high-level radioactive waste to the new interim storage facility is a significant step forward in the cleanup effort at the West Valley Site…This is yet another major accomplishment from the dedicated and talented workforce at the West Valley Demonstration (Prototype)Project.”

David Brown, CHBWV project manager for the High-Level Waste Project said. “The workers have dedicated the past four years working tirelessly to plan, construct, train, and operate the specialized equipment to perform this important work…This project is called the West Valley Demonstration (Prototype)Project, and once again this workforce demonstrated a first-of-its-kind operation.” 

This cleanup is conducted by The office of Environmental Managemt (EM) in cooperation with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley, LLC (CHBWV) is EM’s contractor for WVDP. In 1972, commercial nuclear fuel reprocessing ceased in the Main Plant Process Building. Workers experimented with vitrified HLW from 1996 to 2002. They placed the waste into 275, 10-foot-tall canisters and stored them inside the building.

DESCRIPTION OF VITRIFIED LIQUID HLW NUCLEAR STORAGE CASKS. Each cask has a 4-inch-thick steel liner and 20 inches of steel-reinforced concrete. The five (5) -pack storage system design is based on “spent nuclear fuel dry cask storage systems”(that is what comes out of nuclear utility reactors worldwide) used in the USA. and around the world, with modifications for long-term storage of vitrified HLW.  The storage configuration of the HLW canisters is fully compliant with all state and federal regulations, and supports future off-site shipment of the HLW canisters. There will be 55 casks in total relocated to the interim storage pad at this facility.

West Valley, LLC (CHBWV) was awarded its contract in 2011, and since then it has completed extensive planning, design, construction, and building modification. They also purchased special transport equipment, which was required to transfer each 87.5-ton cask from the plant to the on-site storage pad.    In preparation for the demolition of the existing site, the first five (5) canisters were transferred to five (5)-compartment, stainless-steel over-packs inside vertical storage casks.   The vertical storage casks were fabricated on site, and 16 have been constructed. With a minimum design-life of 50 years.   Relocation of all HLW at the site is scheduled to be complete in 2018.

Nothing is said about particulars of the “Vitrification” process which may yet be proprietary or secret information. It has been in experimental development for many years, and we hope it will extend the HLW Cask life well beyond its current 50 year life span before “Re-casking” is necessary. Another mentioned, but not highlighted feature of this initiative is that it is intended for above ground storage. Recall that that we have often suggested that it is folly to store HLW in caverns because it will make inspection and maintenance virtually impossible if the underground permanent storage NLW should become contaminated. Remember Fukushima? Yeah! They can’t even get near the crap! Things are going from bad to worse there as HLW liquid, and solid waste continues to accumulate without an end in sight.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

References: Dry Cask of spent nuclear fuel  (high-level waste)

http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/dry-cask-storage

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_cask_storage

http://www.nrc.gov/waste/high-level-waste


November 13, 2015 at 10:14 PM Comments (0)