Office of Environmental Management

SRS Moves Closer to Salt Waste Processing Facility Startup

September 12, 2017

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Before-and-after photos of the 511-S excavation connecting the Defense and Salt waste processing facilities.
Before-and-after photos of the 511-S excavation connecting the Defense and Salt waste processing facilities.

AIKEN, S.C. – Workers have finished excavation to expose several waste transfer lines at the Savannah River Site (SRS), a significant milestone in integrating the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF) with the liquid waste system.

   The accomplishment brings SWPF closer to startup. The newly constructed facility undergoing testing and commissioning will process low-level salt waste accounting for more than 90 percent of waste in the SRS Tank Farms.

   DOE-Savannah River Waste Disposition Assistant Manager Jim Folk said SWPF startup and integration is a priority for EM.

   “The Salt Waste Processing Facility will be key in the future of the liquid waste mission at the Savannah River Site,” Folk said. “Each milestone cleared on the way to startup is a win for all involved. The teams of the integration process have been collaborative, efficient, and committed to delivery.”

   Workers will connect more than 3.5 miles of underground piping that carry radioactive liquid waste between facilities. Three of these transfer lines intersect at the 511-S process building, connecting the Defense Waste Processing Facility, the vitrification plant for high-level sludge waste; the Tank Farms, home to 43 operational underground waste storage tanks; and SWPF.

   After digging nearly 20 feet underground to expose the lines, workers installed sheet piling, welded support beams, and flushed the lines, sometimes using a high-power water jet to expel radioactive material into a waste tank.

A demonstration of the expanding grout method to break up the concrete surrounding the underground transfer lines, which protected the adjacent waste lines from the shock of traditional demolition methods.
A demonstration of the expanding grout method to break up the concrete surrounding the underground transfer lines, which protected the adjacent waste lines from the shock of traditional demolition methods.
The transfer line tie-in at Tank 49 in H Tank Farm.
The transfer line tie-in at Tank 49 in H Tank Farm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Robust effort ensured the transfer lines were thoroughly cleaned to keep the radiological dose to workers as low as reasonable achievable, according to Tom Foster, president and project manager of Savannah River Remediation (SRR), the site’s liquid waste contractor.

   “The number one value of any job at Savannah River Remediation is the safety of our workers,” Foster said. “Extreme care and precision must be executed during any scope we do, but particularly one involving a radiological area such as this one.”

   The transfer lines were encased in concrete boxes to protect a water barrier surrounding them. Crews inserted expanding grout into the boxes to break up the concrete, a method preferred to demolition, which can damage the adjacent waste lines. 

   Upcoming work to the transfer lines near 511-S includes:

  • Modifying the Modular Caustic Side Solvent Extraction Unit (MCU), an interim salt waste processing facility, to link to SWPF;
  • Connecting new SWPF transfer lines to existing spare transfer lines; and
  • Installing blank nozzles on the spare lines in the 511-S cell to keep SWPF isolated from the system until ready for operations.

   The team will excavate the transfer line for Tank 49, the SWPF feed tank, to modify a valve box and install a new jumper. Workers also will test existing transfer piping to ensure it withstands the increased pressure of a new pump to transfer liquid from the tank to SWPF. 

   Next steps for Tank 49 work include:

  • Extending the tank’s new feed line to its final tie-in near MCU;
  • Excavating the tank’s tie-in point to get dimensions; 
  • Installing a pipe from the transfer line to the tank; and
  • Installing the new pump for SWPF operations.

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