DOE Leaders Announce Completion of Key Step Toward Hanford Tank Waste Treatment; The Results Are In — EM Accomplished Bulk of 2020 Cleanup Priorities; and much more!

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

EM Update | Vol. 13, Issue 1 | Jan. 13, 2021


In Mark of Progress, SRS Crews Remove Cesium Columns From Tank Closure Unit


Savannah River Remediation crews remove the first column filled with cesium from the Tank Closure Cesium Removal (TCCR) unit via crane in H Tank Farm at the Savannah River Site. All four of the original columns have been removed from TCCR and will be replaced by new columns this year.

AIKEN, S.C. – For the first time, EM and its liquid waste contractor at the Savannah River Site (SRS) have removed columns that are filled with cesium in a demonstration project designed to accelerate removal of radioactive salt waste from underground tanks.
Operated by Savannah River Remediation (SRR), the Tank Closure Cesium Removal (TCCR) unit removes cesium from the salt waste in Tank 10 in the SRS H Tank Farm. TCCR is a pilot demonstration of innovative technology helping accelerate tank closure at SRS.
Building on the experience of commercial nuclear plant decontamination and following the disaster response associated with the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the TCCR technology selectively removes radioactive cesium from dissolved salt waste.
A commercial supplier designed, fabricated, tested, and delivered the mobile cesium removal system, which has been deployed at Tank 10 for the treatment of liquid salt waste. The radioactive cesium is filtered and holds to a specially engineered resin inside four ion-exchange columns within the process unit. The decontaminated salt solution discharge is sent to Tank 11 and eventually to the Saltstone Production Facility for onsite disposal. Savannah River National Laboratory supported research and development of the ion-exchange resin.
The original columns were adequately filled with the cesium collected from the waste. The four columns, which were in operation since January 2019, were removed from the TCCR unit via mobile crane in December 2020. They were then transported to a nearby interim safe storage pad. Four new columns are expected to be installed in the spring.
SRR President and Project Manager Phil Breidenbach said the task of removing the columns is a first for this project.
“On the surface, it appeared to be like any other crane lift and equipment transport, which are routinely performed in the tank farms; however, this equipment contained cesium-rich, high-level waste, which was transported above-ground via roadway to an onsite interim safe storage pad,” Breidenbach said. “It was all handled safely and executed with outstanding teamwork by our highly skilled workforce.”
The majority of the salt waste inside the tanks at SRS will be processed through the Salt Waste Processing Facility, which began radioactive operations in October 2020, and full operations are expected soon. TCCR will supplement that processing to help accelerate EM’s liquid waste mission.
TCCR has processed three batches, or nearly 300,000 gallons, of salt waste since the demonstration project began.
-Contributor: Colleen Hart

Idaho Calcine Project Partners With University for Radiation Testing


Fluor Idaho Engineer Kevin Young, left, and Idaho Accelerator Center Imaging Laboratory Director Mike Smith prepare calcine retrieval project components for radiation testing with a high-powered X-ray generator.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – Engineers with EM contractor Fluor Idaho are working with Idaho State University to conduct radiation testing on components to be used to remove a granulated high-level radioactive waste called calcine from a storage bin at the DOE Idaho National Laboratory Site.

Calcine is a dried byproduct of the legacy spent nuclear fuel reprocessing mission at the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center (INTEC).

The engineers partnered with physicists at the Idaho Accelerator Center Imaging Laboratory at the university to subject electronic components, rubber seals, and eight small video cameras to high levels of radiation to replicate the conditions the components will encounter once inserted into a concrete bin set that houses 220 cubic meters of calcine.

“The components faired very well,” Fluor Idaho engineer Kevin Young said. “The unshielded video cameras operated as designed for more than nine hours with minimal image degradation despite being in a very high radiation field.”

The laboratory went online in the 1980s to perform nuclear-based applied research. It was chosen to conduct testing on the calcine retrieval components because it is more cost effective and safer than recovering a portion of calcine and conducting testing in a hot cell, which is a radiation containment chamber.

Fluor Idaho has completed a full-scale mock-up of a calcine bin set where testing continues on entry, retrieval, and transfer technologies that will be employed to transfer calcine to a nearby bin set. The bin set emptied of calcine will then be closed under federal regulations.

In an agreement with the state of Idaho, EM is required to retrieve, treat, repackage, and prepare 4,400 cubic meters of calcine to ship for out-of-state disposal by 2035. The material is in storage in six separate bin sets inside concrete vaults at an INTEC facility.

-Contributor: Erik Simpson

Virtual Tours Give Public New Views of Hanford, Savannah River Cleanup


The new Hanford Site virtual tours webpage gives viewers panoramic images of multiple locations of cleanup efforts. This picture shows the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant’s Low-Activity Waste Facility and has additional viewing options in the navigation panel.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Tour the sprawling Hanford and Savannah River sites from the comfort of your home thanks to newly created virtual tours of each location.

The Hanford Site and its cleanup contractors are set to unveil a public self-guided virtual tour platform of the 580-square-mile site on Jan. 14. Members of the public can access the tour from the top banner of the Hanford webpage. The Savannah River Site (SRS) virtual tour video is available here.

In the past, Hanford offered limited in-person public tours in the spring and summer months as a way to engage the public in the Hanford cleanup mission. Since public tours are currently on hold, site leadership came up with the idea of a virtual tour with the intent of keeping the public involved in cleanup progress while upholding COVID-19 protocols.

While on the virtual tour, participants can view up to 20 Hanford locations with 360-degree camera views, accompanied by descriptions to provide context of the various projects.

“Hanford cleanup is one of the great public works of our time. We are excited to have the tools to expand public awareness and appreciation of our important work with the virtual tour,” said Brian Vance, the EM manager of the Hanford Site. “Some of the locations featured on the virtual tour would not have otherwise been accessible to visitors due to the nature of our work. By utilizing technology, the virtual tour provides a superior experience and promotes public engagement.”

Some of the tour stops include Hanford’s 324 Building, the 200 West Groundwater Treatment Project, and various structures associated with Hanford’s Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste program, including the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant and tank farms.

Hanford’s virtual tour website is designed to be self-guided and will have the potential to reach an unlimited audience.


People who visit the new Hanford Site virtual tours webpage can get 360-degree views of locations like the 200 West Pump and Treat facility. Virtual tourists can click on icons to get additional details about the project.


A map of the 580-square-mile Hanford Site shows virtual tourists the geography of past site operations and the current cleanup mission.


In a still photo from the Savannah River Site (SRS) virtual tour, Tour Program Coordinator Bob Bonnett points out that SRS is larger in area than greater Washington, D.C.


From hearing cool factoids to learning more about the Savannah River Site's national missions, the public is invited to "get on the bus" for a virtual tour of the expansive 310-square-mile site.

SRS public tours are usually booked months in advance, and the SRS Tour Program typically provides free guided bus tours of the 310-square-mile site to approximately 2,000 people each year. But with social distancing limiting tour bus group sizes, DOE decided to develop the virtual approach.

Based on a driving tour of SRS, the virtual ride incorporates historical footage of the site’s construction along with glimpses inside many production facilities and environmental cleanup efforts, plus scenes from the diverse work at the Savannah River National and Savannah River Ecology laboratories.

“We’ve seen so much of our world change and adapt to this pandemic, so this is an innovative way for us to continue telling our story,” DOE Savannah River Operations Manager Mike Budney said. “As SRS celebrates 70 years of protecting our nation, this virtual tour gives our surrounding communities a new window into our history, our current missions, and our talented workforce.”

Other videos on SRS operations, history, and more can be found at the SRS YouTube Channel.

Click here for SRS Tour Program updates.

-Contributor: Coleen Drinkard, Julie Petersen, Barbara Smoak

EM Awards Fees for Contractors’ Performance Across DOE Complex


Workers at the Hanford Site make final connections between a pipe sticking up out of one of three aging underground structures being stabilized and a grout delivery system. The structures are located near the former Plutonium Finishing Plant on Hanford’s Central Plateau.

EM recently awarded performance-based fees payments to 10 of its contractors at sites across the DOE complex, including Hanford, Portsmouth, Paducah, Savannah River, and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

The cleanup program releases information relating to contractor fee payments — earned by completing work called for in the contracts — to further transparency in its cleanup program.

Following are the fee payments for the 10 contractors over varying performance evaluation periods:

  • Hanford Site Richland Operations Office contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company was awarded about $17 million, or 85% of the available fee of more than $20 million for fiscal 2020.
  • Mission Support Alliance, Hanford’s site services contractor, earned nearly $17 million, or approximately 93% of the available fee of more than $18 million for the period of October 2019 through May 25, 2020.
  • Hanford Office of River Protection (ORP) contractor Wastren Advantage received more than $232,000, or 93% of the available fee of about $250,000 for the period of Sept. 21, 2019 to Sept. 20, 2020.
  • Washington River Protection Solutions, the ORP tank operations contractor, earned about $42.6 million, or 95% of the available fee of $45 million for fiscal 2020.
  • Nuclear Waste Partnership, the management-and-operations contractor for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, earned approximately $13.2 million, representing 75% of the available fee of about $17.6 million for fiscal 2020.
  • Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership, the Paducah Site cleanup contractor, received nearly $5.4 million, or 69% of the available fee of about $7.8 million for fiscal 2020.
  • Mid-America Conversion Services was awarded nearly $2.9 million, or 87% of the available fee of approximately $3.3 million, for its operation and maintenance of the depleted uranium hexafluoride (DUF6) conversion facilities at EM’s Portsmouth, Ohio and Paducah, Kentucky cleanup sites.
  • Newport News Nuclear BWXT-Los Alamos, EM’s cleanup contractor at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, earned more than $8.4 million, or about 82% of the available fee of $10.3 million for fiscal 2020.
  • Savannah River Remediation, the liquid waste contractor at the Savannah River Site (SRS), received nearly $64 million, or 98% of the available fee of $65 million for the period of April 1, 2019 through Sept. 30, 2020.
  • Centerra-Savannah River Site, the protective force services contractor at SRS, was awarded about $6.6 million, or nearly 98 percent of the total available fee of $6.7 million for the period of Oct. 1, 2019 to Oct. 7, 2020.

Employee Feedback Improves Decontamination Project at West Valley


Mark Hebdon, a maintenance mechanic and fabricator with CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley, stands next to a containment box that was modified to incorporate employee feedback for improved safety, productivity, and efficiency.

WEST VALLEY, N.Y.EM workers provided feedback and lessons learned to help develop a new box to contain materials for disposal as they decontaminate the walls of a former reprocessing cell inside the Main Plant Process Building at the West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP).
“This is a good example of what can be accomplished when employees are engaged in the process,” said Todd Olson, facility disposition foreman with EM cleanup contractor CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley. “Open communication allows for ideas to be shared and provides a sense of ownership, which helps to further improve safety, productivity, and efficiency.”
EM workers built the containment box at WVDP for use in the cleanup work set to begin next month with new COVID-19 protocols. They will use liquid nitrogen — up to 60,000 pounds per square inch — to clean the nearly 2,400-square-foot surface of the walls in the cell and dispose of debris from the work in the containment box.
“This safe method possesses several advantages, including removal efficiency, waste minimization, and versatility over other traditional decontamination methods including water, carbon dioxide, and decontamination gels,” Olson said.
WVDP employees have been providing input to enhance the efficiency and safety of the project since January of last year. The latest changes to the containment box include an improved viewing area for operators, better lighting, and a narrower design for reaching tight spaces. Lessons learned from each worker entry into the cell are being incorporated into future improvements.
The former reprocessing cell is located inside the south end of the Main Plant Process Building. The cell contained equipment used to purify plutonium product. That work was completed by Nuclear Fuel Services, which reprocessed spent fuel at the site from 1966 to 1972.
The Main Plant Process Building is set to be demolished later this year.
-Contributor: Joseph Pillittere

Like EM on Facebook at:


Follow EM on Twitter: @EMcleanup