Waste Removal for Tank Closure Project Underway at Savannah River Site

AIKEN, S.C. (January 9, 2019) – The Department of Energy-Environmental Management (DOE-EM) is taking a significant step in the startup of Tank Closure Cesium Removal (TCCR) at the Savannah River Site (SRS).

Crews have initiated salt dissolution, the first phase of TCCR operations, in the waste feed tank for the TCCR process. Low-level salt waste accounts for more than 90 percent of waste in the SRS tank farms.

TCCR is a pilot project designed to accelerate removal of radioactive waste from the SRS underground tanks to support tank closures. Liquid waste contractor Savannah River Remediation (SRR) is tasked with completing this work.

Salt dissolution began with the addition of 150,000 gallons of water to Tank 10, signifying the start of bulk waste removal efforts — the first phase of tank closure and a federal facility agreement milestone. A recirculating system, installed on the tank by the TCCR project, uses the water to dissolve the solid salt waste in the tank, called saltcake.

Crews will sample, analyze, and verify chemical constituents in the dissolved salt waste before sending it to the TCCR process enclosure for cesium removal.

Initiating salt dissolution is a major preparation step prior to commissioning TCCR, according to Jim Folk, DOE-Savannah River assistant manager for waste disposition.

“Tank Closure Cesium Removal startup continues to be a priority for EM,” Folk said. “It is expected to be an innovative addition to the waste treatment process.”

TCCR is a waste treatment technology that uses filters, ion exchange columns, and a specially engineered resin to remove cesium — a radioactive chemical element — from the salt waste.

Preparing for salt dissolution included replacing the transfer pump, installing new transfer lines and radiological shielding, deploying in-tank cameras, and completing modifications to allow for leak detection.

Workers completed TCCR pre-commissioning activities, such as safety basis implementation, procedure development, and operator training. Additional work, such as final safety verifications and preparing the ion exchange columns for hot operations, continues.

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