(Oak Ridge Today) The Y-12 National Security Complex has completed disposition of 2,247 containers of mixed waste more than two years ahead of a September 2018 deadline, a press release said.
The waste removal was mandated by the Oak Ridge Reservation Site Treatment Plan through a Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation commissioner’s order to the U.S. Department of Energy. The disposition of this material is part of a larger effort to dispose of legacy waste materials. Mixed waste is defined as material that consists of hazardous and radioactive waste.
“Removal of legacy waste materials from Y-12 is a key priority for NNSA,” said Geoff Beausoleil, manager of the NNSA Production Office. “Completing this removal project two years ahead of schedule is a significant achievement.”
The vast majority of the waste consisted of solid residues that did not require treatment to meet land disposal restrictions under the Resource Recovery and Conservation Act, or RCRA, the press release said. However, many containers required repackaging to meet Department of Transportation shipping requirements for uranium content. Representing 2,100 containers, this portion of the disposal plan was completed in 2011.
Disposing of the remaining solid residue waste, an effort begun in 2012, required multiple treatment and processing steps to adhere to land disposal restrictions. These wastes were split among containers to reduce the uranium content and then “rocked up” for disposal, meaning a small container of the waste was placed inside a larger container that was then filled with concrete.
The most challenging items involved organic solutions stored in bottles, the press release said. These required processing and several splits to sufficiently reduce the uranium content to meet shipping requirements and stabilization/solidification to meet disposal requirements. In total, the waste left Y-12 in 193 shipments. The vast majority of the waste, 187 shipments, was sent to Energy Solution’s Clive Facility in Utah, while the remaining six went to an off-site federal disposal facility.
Y-12 and the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, are operated by Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC (CNS), under a single contract for the NNSA Production Office. Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration) is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy.