Energy Secretary Breaks Ground on SRS Mega-Volume Waste Disposal Unit

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry (center) breaks ground at the site where Saltstone Disposal Unit (SDU) 7 will stand. From left are Craig Carlisle, SDU 7 Project Manager; Tom Foster, SRR President and Project Manager; Perry; Jack Craig, DOE-SR Manager; and Shayne Farrell, SDU 7 Federal Project Director. In the background is SDU 6, which was completed last year.

AIKEN, SC (Feb. 1, 2018) – Today, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry and officials at the Savannah River Site (SRS) broke ground on the second 32 million-gallon liquid waste disposal unit during his first visit to the site.

“We are pleased that Secretary Perry could be here to commemorate this occasion with us today,” said DOE-Savannah River Manager Jack Craig. “The SDUs are an important part of our cleanup mission and underscore the Department of Energy's continued commitment to furthering progress on the closure of the high-level waste tanks at SRS.”

Saltstone Disposal Units (SDU) are permanent disposal units for low-activity waste grout produced from solidification of decontaminated non-hazardous salt waste at SRS. SDU 7 is the second of seven mega units planned to store the remaining tank waste. DOE’s Office of Environmental Management approved the concept of replicating the mega-volume design for all remaining SDUs at SRS.

Savannah River Remediation President and Project Manager Tom Foster highlighted the approval to begin SDU 7 site preparation which came just three months after SRR completed construction on SDU 6. SDU 6 was completed 16 months ahead of schedule and $25 million under budget last year. The project was recognized for its success as the 2017 DOE-EM Project of the Year.

“The template created by the liquid waste team from safely completing Saltstone Disposal Unit 6 will continue as we begin construction on Saltstone Disposal Unit 7,” Foster said.

Since site preparation activities began in October 2017, SRR has removed structures and is rerouting above and below ground utilities located within the SDU 7 footprint. This will position the project to begin excavation of over 170,000 cubic yards of soil for placement of the structural base slab.

The mega-volume SDUs are more than 10 times larger than the smaller units on site and will accommodate the larger stream of decontaminated salt solution from the Salt Waste Processing Facility when operational.

The seven larger units will result in more than $500 million in cost savings over the life of the low-level saltstone waste storage program because it requires less infrastructure and materials to design and build the larger SDUs. SRS would have needed 80 of the smaller SDUs.