IMPROVING THE CHARACTERIZATION AND TREATMENT OF RADIOACTIVE WASTES FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY’S ACCELERATED SITE CLEANUP PROGRAM

Committee on Opportunities for Accelerating Characterization and Treatment of Waste at DOE Nuclear Weapons Sites

Board on Radioactive Waste Management

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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Improving the Characterization and Treatment of Radioactive Wastes for the Department of Energy’s Accelerated Site Cleanup Program IMPROVING THE CHARACTERIZATION AND TREATMENT OF RADIOACTIVE WASTES FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY’S ACCELERATED SITE CLEANUP PROGRAM Committee on Opportunities for Accelerating Characterization and Treatment of Waste at DOE Nuclear Weapons Sites Board on Radioactive Waste Management Division on Earth and Life Studies NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu

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Improving the Characterization and Treatment of Radioactive Wastes for the Department of Energy’s Accelerated Site Cleanup Program THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. Support for this study was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy under Grant No. DE-FC01-99EW59049. All opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Energy. International Standard Book Number 0-309-09299-X (Book) International Standard Book Number 0-309-54520-X (PDF) Additional copies of this report are available from: National Academies Press 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Lockbox 285 Washington, DC 20055 800-624-6242 202-334-3313 (in the Washington Metropolitan Area) http://www.nap.edu Copyright 2005 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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Improving the Characterization and Treatment of Radioactive Wastes for the Department of Energy’s Accelerated Site Cleanup Program THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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Improving the Characterization and Treatment of Radioactive Wastes for the Department of Energy’s Accelerated Site Cleanup Program COMMITTEE ON OPPORTUNITIES FOR ACCELERATING CHARACTERIZATION AND TREATMENT OF WASTE AT DOE NUCLEAR WEAPONS SITES MILTON LEVENSON, Chair, Bechtel International (retired), Menlo Park, California CYNTHIA ATKINS-DUFFIN, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California PATRICIA J. CULLIGAN, Columbia University, New York, New York ROBIN DILLON-MERRILL, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. LLOYD A. DUSCHA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (retired), Reston, Virginia THOMAS F. GESELL, Idaho State University, Pocatello CAROLYN L. HUNTOON, CLH Associates, Inc., Barrington, Rhode Island BARRY SCHEETZ, Pennsylvania State University, University Park LAURA TORAN, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania RAYMOND G. WYMER, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (retired), Tennessee Board on Radioactive Waste Management Liaison ROBERT M. BERNERO, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (retired), Gaithersburg, Maryland Staff JOHN R. WILEY, Study Director DARLA J. THOMPSON, Research Associate LAURA D. LLANOS, Senior Program Assistant

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Improving the Characterization and Treatment of Radioactive Wastes for the Department of Energy’s Accelerated Site Cleanup Program BOARD ON RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT RICHARD A. MESERVE, Chair, Carnegie Institution, Washington, D.C. ROBERT M. BERNERO, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (Retired), Gaithersburg, Maryland SUE B. CLARK, Washington State University, Pullman ALLEN G. CROFF, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (retired), Tennessee DAVID E. DANIEL, University of Illinois, Urbana RODNEY EWING, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor ROGER L. HAGENGRUBER, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque KLAUS KÜHN, Technische Universität Clausthal, Germany HOWARD C. KUNREUTHER, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia SUSAN M. LANGHORST, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri NIKOLAY LAVEROV, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow MILTON LEVENSON, Bechtel International (retired), Menlo Park, California PAUL A. LOCKE, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland NORINE E. NOONAN, College of Charleston, South Carolina EUGENE A. ROSA, Washington State University, Pullman ATSUYUKI SUZUKI, Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan, Tokyo Staff KEVIN D. CROWLEY, Director MICAH D. LOWENTHAL, Senior Program Officer BARBARA PASTINA, Senior Program Officer JOHN R. WILEY, Senior Program Officer TONI GREENLEAF, Financial & Administrative Associate DARLA J. THOMPSON, Research Associate LAURA D. LLANOS, Senior Program Assistant MARILI ULLOA, Senior Program Assistant JAMES YATES, JR., Office Assistant

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Improving the Characterization and Treatment of Radioactive Wastes for the Department of Energy’s Accelerated Site Cleanup Program Reviewers This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council (NRC) Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The content of the review comments and draft manuscript remains confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: David Daniel, University of Illinois Rear Admiral G. Brian Estes, Westinghouse Hanford Company (retired) Paul Locke, Johns Hopkins University Michael Mobley, Independent Consultant Frank Parker, Vanderbilt University Della Roy, Pennsylvania State University Alfred Sattlelberger, Los Alamos National Laboratory John Swanson, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (retired) James Woolford, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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Improving the Characterization and Treatment of Radioactive Wastes for the Department of Energy’s Accelerated Site Cleanup Program Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Chris G. Whipple, ENVIRON International Corporation, appointed by the Division on Earth and Life Studies, and Steve Berry, University of Chicago, appointed by the Report Review Committee, who were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with NRC procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the NRC.

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Improving the Characterization and Treatment of Radioactive Wastes for the Department of Energy’s Accelerated Site Cleanup Program Preface To manage the massive cleanup of sites involved in the production of nuclear weapons materials throughout the Manhattan Project and the Cold War, the Department of Energy (DOE) established in 1989 its Office of Environmental Remediation and Waste Management, renamed the Office of Environmental Management (EM) in 1994. Because of the complexity of cleaning up this legacy of waste and contamination, limited experience, and changing requirements, identifying actual costs and time required to complete the cleanup was a challenge from the beginning. In June 1998, EM issued its first comprehensive plan Paths to Closure (DOE, 1998a) for accelerating the cleanup and reducing costs. Currently, according to EM’s plan for accelerated cleanup, the total life cycle cost is estimated to be about $142 billion, with completion in 2035. EM is considering how the schedule and costs might be reduced further, without compromising its commitments to health and safety. EM commissioned this study by the National Academies’ Board on Radioactive Waste Management (BRWM) to provide technical advice for EM’s accelerated cleanup program, specifically by identifying opportunities for EM to improve its capabilities for characterizing and treating the legacy wastes and contamination that are within the scope of the accelerated cleanup program. While acknowledging that site cleanup is a multifaceted challenge, including establishing cleanup goals, legal and regulatory compliance, and public confidence, the committee confined its study to the technical issues set forth in its Study Prospectus and Statement of Task (see Chapter 1). Clearly, EM’s technical capability to manage its wastes and environmental contamination is essential for accomplishing the cleanup regardless of how non-technical issues surrounding site cleanup may change over the next few decades. The EM program is a limited program, not intended to completely clean up all DOE nuclear sites. EM’s plans for accelerated cleanup include

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Improving the Characterization and Treatment of Radioactive Wastes for the Department of Energy’s Accelerated Site Cleanup Program leaving some buried wastes, contaminated facilities, and subsurface contamination to the responsibility of a newly created DOE office, the Office of Legacy Management (LM). The committee suggests an approach that may help EM transition these left-in-place liabilities to LM in Chapter 4. Wastes currently being generated by non-EM programs1 and future programs are not part of the EM program and so are not addressed in this report. The committee has undertaken to do the requested study, limited to technical opportunities to assist EM’s accelerated cleanup, recognizing that there are many questions about facilities and wastes outside the EM program. While it is beyond the scope of this study, the committee believes that DOE has need and opportunity to take a more holistic view of its waste management than is reflected in EM’s mission or this report, for example, by including some of the facilities identified in Chapter 3 in plans for treating wastes from ongoing and future programs. The committee based its findings and recommendations on information received from EM headquarters and its site visits. We very much appreciate the assistance of Patrice Bubar, Lynne Smith, and Alton Harris, who served as the committee’s points of contact with EM headquarters at the outset of the study. This responsibility transferred to Mark Gilbertson, Mark Frei, and Ker-Chi Chang upon the formation of EM’s Office of Environmental Cleanup and Acceleration, and we benefited greatly from their advice at the close of the study. Our study would not have been possible without the dedicated work of our site visit coordinators: Mildred Ferré and Carolyn Davis at Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Charles Anderson, James Folk, and Laurie Posey at the Savannah River Site, South Carolina; Kathleen Hain, Alan Jines, and Mary Willcox at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory; and Mary Goldie and Mark French at Hanford, Washington. John Wiley, BRWM staff, served as the study director. We are grateful for his assistance and advice throughout the study. Laura Llanos, BRWM senior program assistant, ably assisted all of the committee’s meetings, logistical matters, and report preparation. Robert Bernero provided the committee with valuable insight and advice as BRWM liaison. Finally and especially, I thank the committee members for contributing their expertise, time, and a good deal of hard work—always in a spirit of cooperation and cheerfulness—to making this a successful study. Milton Levenson Chairman 1   National Nuclear Security Administration, other DOE offices, Nuclear Navy, and others. Some legacy cleanups, e.g., the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, are also outside the scope of the EM program and this report.

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Improving the Characterization and Treatment of Radioactive Wastes for the Department of Energy’s Accelerated Site Cleanup Program Contents     SYNOPSIS   1     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   3 1   Introduction   12 2   Administrative Opportunities   19 3   Facilities and Technologies   28 4   Manage-in-Place Technologies   44     REFERENCES   56     APPENDICES     A   Presentations to the Committee   61 B   Biographical Sketches of Committee Members   65 C   Acronyms   70

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