Savannah River Site Salt Waste Processing Reaches 6 Million Gallon Milestone

AIKEN, S.C. (June 6, 2016) – The Savannah River Site (SRS) reached another significant milestone by processing six million gallons of salt waste through its Interim Salt Disposition Process, known as the Actinide Removal Process and Modular Caustic Side Solvent Extraction Unit (ARP/MCU).

Additionally, ARP/MCU production set a new monthly record by processing over 210,000 gallons in April 2016 – breaking the previous record by nearly 15,000 gallons.

Liquid waste contractor Savannah River Remediation (SRR) operates the interim salt waste processing facilities, as well as the other SRS facilities that disposition radioactive liquid waste for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). SRR’s contract also calls for operationally closing waste tanks.

The ARP and MCU work as an integrated system to remove nearly all of the radioactive isotopes from the salt waste portion of the SRS’s radioactive waste in storage tanks. ARP/MCU began radioactive operations in April 2008.

The primary radioactive isotope removed by ARP/MCU is cesium. These isotopes are transferred to the Defense Waste Processing Facility, where it is blended with a borosilicate frit and melted to form a molten glass mixture that is poured in stainless steel canisters and stored at SRS awaiting permanent disposal.

The remaining decontaminated salt solution from salt waste processing is transferred to the Saltstone facilities for disposition.

Achieving this milestone continues to prove the effectiveness of the salt processing technologies in removing the radioactive constituents from salt waste and reducing curies remaining at SRS, according to Jim Folk, DOE-Savannah River Assistant Manager for Waste Disposition.

“Processing salt waste is essential for us and our mission to close tanks, and ultimately reducing the risk of the waste,” Folk said.

Tom Foster, SRR President and Project Manager, said SRR is achieving its mission to disposition waste and close tanks. Salt waste constitutes about 90 percent of the total waste inventory stored in the two Site tank farms.

“Reaching these milestones at ARP/MCU demonstrates we are safely and efficiently preparing for the future the waste removal process at SRS,” Foster said.

During the past year, the ARP and MCU facilities underwent facility upgrades and process improvements designed to increase flowrate, minimize the amount of solids added during processing, and achieve greater performance and processing totals. Upgrades to the Interim Salt Disposition Process are helping prepare operations that will be used in the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF).

ARP/MCU will continue processing salt waste until SWPF begins radioactive operations, currently scheduled for December 2018.