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Advice on the Department of Energy’s Cleanup Technology Roadmap: Gaps and Bridges FIGURE E.1 The Idaho National Laboratory site encompasses 890 square miles in eastern Idaho. It was established in 1949 primarily for the development and testing of nuclear reactors, which continues to be a major mission for the site. SOURCE: Department of Energy.
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Advice on the Department of Energy’s Cleanup Technology Roadmap: Gaps and Bridges Appendix E Idaho National Laboratory INTRODUCTION The National Research Council Committee on Development and Implementation of a Cleanup Technology Roadmap held its third meeting in Idaho Falls, Idaho from August 27 to 29, 2007. The purpose of the meeting was to obtain information relevant to the committee’s Statement of Task (SOT) through presentations and tours by Department of Energy (DOE) staff and their contractors.1 This appendix provides a factual summary of the information related to the four items in the committee’s SOT obtained during the meeting, the site visits, and documents provided to the committee. This appendix first describes the history and status of the DOE site in Idaho to provide perspective on the range of cleanup issues being managed by the DOE Office of Environmental Management (EM). The next sections summarize information presented to the committee, which guided the committee’s deliberations in addressing its SOT as described in the main text. This appendix thus provides support for the findings and recommendations developed by the committee. HISTORY The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) site is the focus of EM’s cleanup activities in Idaho. The site is located in the Idaho desert west of the city of 1 The agenda for this meeting is shown in Appendix B.
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Advice on the Department of Energy’s Cleanup Technology Roadmap: Gaps and Bridges Idaho Falls. The Idaho National Laboratory, which is associated with the site, also has offices and low-hazard laboratories in Idaho Falls. The INL site is an 890-square-mile (569,135-acre) government reservation. It was established in 1949 as the National Reactor Testing Station and renamed the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory in 1977, the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory in 1997, and INL in 2005. Fifty-two nuclear reactors were built on the site, including the U.S. Navy’s first prototype nuclear propulsion plant, but most are no longer operated and many no longer exist. Nuclear fuel was reprocessed and wastes were managed through treatment, storage, disposal, or combinations thereof. During the 1990s, the laboratory’s mission broadened into other areas, such as biotechnology, energy and materials research, and conservation and renewable energy. At the end of the Cold War, waste treatment and cleanup of previously contaminated sites became a priority. Today, INL is a science-based, applied engineering national laboratory dedicated to addressing national environmental, energy, nuclear technology, and national security needs, while cleanup continues under the separate Idaho Cleanup Project (ICP). Begun in 2005, the ICP is a 7-year, $2.9 billion program funded through EM, which focuses equally on reducing risks to workers, the public, and the environment and on protecting the Snake River Plain Aquifer, the sole drinking water source for more than 300,000 residents of eastern Idaho. The cleanup contractor, CH2M-WG Idaho LLC (CWI)2 has identified five major geographic areas at INL that are undergoing cleanup (CWI 2007): Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center (INTEC), Power Burst Facility (PBF), Reactor Technology Complex (RTC), Radioactive Waste Management Complex (RWMC), and Test Area North (TAN). The following sections briefly describe the history and status of these geographic areas, followed by a short description of the structure and scope of the DOE-EM cleanup program at the INL (adapted from CWI 2007). 2 CH2M·WG Idaho is a limited liability company formed by a partnership of CH2M HILL and the Washington Division of URS Corporation (formerly Washington Group International).
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Advice on the Department of Energy’s Cleanup Technology Roadmap: Gaps and Bridges INTEC3 The Idaho Chemical Processing Plant was established in the 1950s to recover usable uranium in spent fuel from government reactors. Over the years, the facility recovered more than $1 billion worth of highly enriched uranium, which was returned to the government fuel cycle. A high-level liquid waste treatment process known as calcining was developed to reduce the volume of liquid waste generated during reprocessing and place it in a more stable granular solid form (CWI 2007). This waste, which currently contains about 44 million curies (MCi) of radioactivity, is to be immobilized in a form suitable for disposal in a high-level waste (HLW) repository and then shipped out of the state for disposal. Altogether some 900,000 gallons of waste, referred to as sodium-bearing waste, remain in 3 of 11 existing underground stainless steel storage tanks (Lockie 2007). These tanks are smaller than those at either the Savannah River Site (SRS) or Hanford and there is good access to most parts of the interior of the tanks. According to information given the committee, the Idaho tanks do not currently have any leaks. The processing facility underwent modernization during the 1980s, including new structures to replace most major facilities. Nuclear waste reprocessing stopped in 1992, when DOE decided that reprocessing was no longer necessary. In 1998, the plant was renamed the INTEC. Groundwater beneath INTEC has been impacted by historic operations of an injection well and disposal ponds, and by leaks in waste handling pipes and tanks over time. Treated wastes4 from reprocessing spent nuclear fuel were injected into the aquifer from 1953 through 1984. Leaks in pipes and tanks and waste from other sources have resulted in contaminated groundwater perched above the aquifer. Contaminants found in the aquifer because of INTEC operations include tritium, iodine-129, strontium-90, technetium-99, sodium, chloride, and nitrate (IDEQ 2008). Today, INTEC is focused on cleanup and protection of the Snake River Plain Aquifer from further contamination. The identified cleanup goals, on which some progress has already been made, are to: Transfer spent nuclear fuel from wet to dry storage and prepare for final disposition at an offsite repository; Treat liquid radioactive waste at the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU); 3 Adapted from https://idahocleanupproject.com/, the NRC (2005) report entitled Risk and Decisions about TRU and HLW, and http://www.deq.idaho.gov/inl_oversight/about/facilities/intec.cfm. 4 These were non-HLW according to site information given to the committee.
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Advice on the Department of Energy’s Cleanup Technology Roadmap: Gaps and Bridges Characterize, repackage, and ship remote-handled transuranic (TRU) waste; Close liquid waste tanks; Remediate contaminated environmental soil sites; and Demolish and/or disposition excess facilities. Progress made includes disposition of nuclear material items, transfer of approximately half of the spent nuclear fuel units from wet storage to dry storage in casks, and grouting seven 300,000-gallon HLW storage tanks. Approval has been received to begin construction of the IWTU, which is intended to treat the remaining high-level liquid wastes (CWI 2007). PBF5 The PBF nuclear reactor was built in the 1970s and supported DOE and Nuclear Regulatory Commission studies of reactor fuel under both normal and off-normal operating conditions. The reactor was installed in a three-story, 19,000-square-foot facility. The PBF could subject fuel samples to large power surges in milliseconds, causing the fuel to fail in an isolated, contained system. Information obtained was used to help develop safe operating limits for commercial nuclear power plants. The PBF was shut down in 1998 and its nuclear fuel removed. The reactor vessel contains radioactive isotopes of cesium, strontium, and cobalt, and there are two highly contaminated cubicles in the first basement level of the facility. The cleanup goals, which are in progress, include: Removal and disposition of lead, asbestos, and hazardous components; Disposition of the PBF reactor vessel; and Demolition of the containment facility and one nearby excess facility, completely eliminating the PBF footprint. RTC6 The RTC, formerly Test Reactor Area, supports INL’s nuclear energy research mission. Three major test reactors have operated at the RTC: the Materials Test Reactor (MTR, 1952-1970), the Engineering Test Reactor (ETR, 1957-1982), and the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR, 1967-present). 5 Adapted from https://idahocleanupproject.com/. 6 Adapted from https://idahocleanupproject.com/ and http://www.deq.idaho.gov/inl_oversight/about/facilities/tra.cfm.
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Advice on the Department of Energy’s Cleanup Technology Roadmap: Gaps and Bridges The MTR was the second reactor to be operated at the INL site.7 Data from the MTR influenced the choice of core structural materials and fuel elements for reactors subsequently designed in the United States. The ETR was larger and more flexible than the MTR and was used to evaluate fuels, coolant, and moderators under conditions similar to those in power reactors. The ATR is used to study the effects of radiation on materials and continues to support INL’s energy research mission. This reactor also produces selected medical and industrial isotopes. Data from these reactors helped establish the technical bases for the design of subsequent reactors and the regulation of nuclear energy. Past disposal of industrial, sanitary, and radioactive wastes to unlined ponds, and industrial wastes to injection wells, resulted in contaminated soil and groundwater perched above the Snake River Plain Aquifer and tritium, chromium, and sulfate contamination in the aquifer itself. Currently, low-level radioactive wastes are sent to a lined evaporation pond, and industrial and sanitary wastes are sent to infiltration ponds. The ETR and MTR are scheduled for demolition as part of the site’s 2012 cleanup. Although the nuclear fuel has been removed from both reactors, they still contain radioactive isotopes of cobalt, strontium, and cesium. The ETR contains an estimated 3,000 curies of cobalt-60. The ETR also contains tritium and low-concentration TRU contamination, and both reactors contain lead, graphite, and a total of more than 7,000 curies contained in irradiated beryllium. Cubicles in both facilities have contained more than 1 million pounds of lead and extensive asbestos-lined piping runs. A complication is that there are ATR utilities in the MTR basement, but care is being taken to ensure continuity of ATR operations. The major cleanup goals, on which progress is being made, are to: Disposition the reactor vessels of the ETR and MTR, and Demolish ETR and MTR containment and support facilities. Significant progress to date includes complete demolition of one building and partial dismantlement of others, plus removal of the ETR reactor vessel. RWMC8 DOE has used the RWMC since the 1950s to manage, store, and dispose of radioactive waste generated in national defense and research 7 Experimental Breeder Reactor No. 1, a Registered National Historic Landmark, was the first operating reactor at the INL site. 8 Adapted from https://idahocleanupproject.com/ and http://www.deq.idaho.gov/inl_oversight/about/facilities/rwmc.cfm.
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Advice on the Department of Energy’s Cleanup Technology Roadmap: Gaps and Bridges programs. Wastes originated from onsite operations as well as from other DOE operations, such as the Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado. The Subsurface Disposal Area (SDA) is a 97-acre radioactive waste landfill that has been used for more than 50 years and is the major focus for remedial decisions and actions at the RWMC. Approximately 35 of the 97 acres contain waste from historical operations, including weapons production and reactor research. Most of the TRU waste was received from the Rocky Flats Plant prior to 1970 and buried at the SDA. The waste includes radioactive elements, organic solvents, acids, nitrates, and metals. Historical waste disposal practices have resulted in the release of radioactive and organic contaminants to the soil and groundwater below the SDA. Targeted waste located at the SDA is identified, retrieved, and prepared for characterization and shipment to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico under the Accelerated Retrieval Project. Enclosures are placed over sections of the pits where wastes are being accessed to isolate them from the environment. The Transuranic Storage Area is primarily dedicated to managing contact- and remote-handled solid TRU waste prior to it being shipped offsite. The Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project (AMWTP), managed by Bechtel BWXT, Idaho, LLC is located here. The AMWTP is currently treating and shipping TRU waste to WIPP near Carlsbad, New Mexico, which is the nation’s permanent deep-geologic repository for TRU waste. The major cleanup goals, which are in progress, are to: Remove and dispose of targeted waste from specified portions of the SDA, Continue extracting organic vapors from the subsurface until remediation goals are met, Demolish excess facilities, and Ship TRU waste offsite. TAN9 TAN was established in the 1950s in the northern portion of the INL site to support the government’s Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion program. The goal was to build and fly a nuclear-powered airplane. Following cancellation of the nuclear propulsion program in 1961, other activities have been conducted at TAN. The Loss of Fluid Test (LOFT) reactor, constructed between 1965 and 1975, was a scaled-down version of a commercial pressurized water 9 Adapted from https://idahocleanupproject.com/ and http://www.deq.idaho.gov/inl_oversight/about/facilities/tan.cfm.
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Advice on the Department of Energy’s Cleanup Technology Roadmap: Gaps and Bridges reactor. Loss-of-fluid experiments to simulate reactor fuel meltdowns were conducted under very controlled conditions within the LOFT dome, which provided containment. The resulting data were incorporated into the commercial reactor operating codes. Thirty-eight experiments were conducted within the facility, including several small loss-of-coolant experiments designed to simulate the type of accident that occurred at Three Mile Island (TMI). TAN also housed the TMI Unit 2 Core Offsite Examination Program that ended in 1990. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), radionuclides, and treated sanitary wastes were disposed of in an injection well at TAN from 1953 through the early 1980s. Groundwater beneath TAN is now contaminated with a range of VOCs, tritium, and strontium-90 (IDEQ 2008). One of the main continuing missions at TAN is the manufacture of tank armor for the U.S. Army’s battle tanks at the Specific Manufacturing Capability Project. The main cleanup goals, which are in progress, are to: Demolish 19 excess facilities, and Demolish two high-risk facilities (TAN-607 and LOFT reactor). In addition to these goals, some soil areas contaminated with radionuclides and petroleum products also require remediation. The longest-term remediation activity will be the continued treatment of a contaminant plume in the aquifer below TAN. This action is to reduce VOC contamination in the aquifer to below maximum contamination levels using in situ bioremediation, natural attenuation, and pump-and-treat methods (IDEQ 2008). TECHNOLOGY GAPS IDENTIFIED DURING THE MEETING WHICH DEFINE AREAS WHERE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT (R&D) MAY BE NEEDED The ICP includes the following (Leake 2007): TRU disposition, including sodium-bearing waste (SBW) treatment and operation of the IWTU; Calcine disposition; Low-level and mixed low-level waste disposition; Pperation of the advanced mixed waste treatment facility (AMWTF); Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) remediations and operation of the Idaho CERCLA disposal facility;
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Advice on the Department of Energy’s Cleanup Technology Roadmap: Gaps and Bridges Waste removal, decontamination and decommissioning (D&D), and remediation activities in the RWMC; D&D of large, contaminated structures; High-level tank and bin closures; and Disposition of spent nuclear fuels and special nuclear materials. In addition to these, there are several facilities currently under the responsibility of the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) that may be transitioned to EM (Gill 2007b). Cleanup is proceeding as agreed in a series of Records of Decision on, or ahead of, schedule. In general, the site personnel did not describe many areas requiring new technologies. Certain specific technological needs called out during the March workshop, the August site visit, or in the presentations and materials supplied during the site visit are listed in the categories below. For some categories, no technological needs were actually called out; in which case a summary of the cleanup approach that the committee was told was being adopted is provided. WASTE RETRIEVAL AND TREATMENT Calcine Retrieval and Treatment Idaho’s HLW, in the form of a calcine, is fundamentally different from the high-level tank waste stored at Hanford and SRS. At Idaho some 8-9 million gallons of acidic reprocessing waste were evaporated and reduced to 4,400 cubic meters of the calcine, which is stored onsite in 43 shielded bins within 6 binsets. The calcine consists of abrasive, hygroscopic, granular oxides ranging in size from about 0.2 to 0.6 milimeters plus about 15 percent fine particles. There is significant heterogeneity in composition of the calcine due to layering in any given bin. INL has demonstrated technical approaches that can remove the dry calcine from the onsite storage bins (Hagers 2007). According to Hagers (2007) the key issue is whether the calcined wastes in their present form, suitably packaged for transportation and geologic storage, will meet regulatory requirements for disposal at a high-level radioactive waste repository. If this is not the case, INL has three alternative paths (1) direct vitrification, (2) hot isostatic pressing (HIP), or (3) dissolution and steam reforming. DOE intends to issue a Record of Decision by the end of 2009 to identify a method to treat the calcine (if necessary). December 31, 2035 is the target date for having all calcine packaged and ready to ship out of state. INL has established a Calcine Disposition Project, which is part of the ICP, in order to meet these milestones.
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Advice on the Department of Energy’s Cleanup Technology Roadmap: Gaps and Bridges Hagers’ presentation emphasized the HIP process, noting its advantages in reducing final waste volumes, as well as its flexibility as a “finish” for several varieties of waste. DOE-Idaho currently has a HIP unit installed in a hot cell at INL, which will be used to perform trials on glass-ceramics and multiphase ceramics with nonradioactive simulants. Further requirements to demonstrate the HIP process for calcine are related to process throughput: in-line heater technology, can filling rate, and cycle time (Hagers 2007). SBW Treatment Idaho has about 900,000 gallons of tank waste that have accumulated from a variety of sources since nuclear fuel reprocessing ended in at INTEC in 1991 (Lockie 2007; Olson 2007). Referred to as SBW the highly acidic waste is stored in three tanks. Because of its acidity, the tank contents are relatively homogeneous (essentially all the SBW remains in solution with little precipitation) and differ fundamentally from the alkaline tank wastes at Hanford and Savannah River. Within the ICP’s SBW Project, over 100 technical options for dealing with the waste were considered. CH2M-WG Idaho proposed steam reforming as the preferred treatment technology and received the SBW contract in 2005 (Olson 2007). The proposed steam reforming process takes place in a fluidized bed chemical reactor that operates between 625 and 740°C. Waste solution is atomized into the reactor where water is evaporated, and organics and nitrates or nitrites are converted to carbon dioxide, water, and nitrogen gas. Alkali metals and other inorganic constituents are incorporated into a granular product (Olson 2007). Olson (2007) noted that fluidized bed steam reforming (FBSR) had undergone testing and demonstration by a number of commercial vendors and DOE laboratories. Bench-scale tests using a 6-inch-diameter fluidized bed were conducted at the Science Applications International Corporation’s Science and Technology Applications Research center from 2003 through 2004. Hazen Research Inc., Colorado, conducted engineering-scale tests and demonstrations from 2005 through 2006. The proposed process is based on a Thor Treatment Technologies flow sheet. FBSR was demonstrated for application to Hanford’s low-activity tank waste at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Savannah River National Laboratory under a 2001 contract with Bechtel National, Inc. FBSR was also demonstrated for SRS Tank 48H waste solution in 2003. The engineering-scale tests by Hazen Research, Inc., have included both SBW and SRS Tank 48 waste simulants.
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Advice on the Department of Energy’s Cleanup Technology Roadmap: Gaps and Bridges According to Olson (2007), FBSR of SBW appears to meet all processing criteria and results in a product that should meet geologic storage requirements. All SBW will be processed using this methodology and will be removed from the site by 2012. Olson (2007) concluded that FBSR is a robust treatment technology with broad applicability to waste streams throughout the DOE complex. Tank Closure Tank closure and grouting is ongoing at Idaho, with final closure of the tank farm scheduled for 2012 (Lockie 2007). With the exception of its SBW, INL converted its acidic reprocessing waste to calcine, thus avoiding the long-term tank storage of multiphase alkaline waste, which is the practice at Hanford and SRS. The amount of reprocessing waste that arose at INL was about 10 percent of that at Hanford and SRS (NRC 2005). Idaho’s tank farm system consisted of 11 underground, 300,000-gallon stainless steel tanks. Eight of these were constructed with cooling coils to remove decay heat from highly radioactive wastes; three have no cooling coils. In addition, four smaller, 30,000-gallon stainless steel tanks were used for storage, but taken out of service in the early 1980s. Among all of the tanks, only four 300,000-gallon tanks are still in service storing the SBW; the others having been emptied (Lockie 2007). Lockie (2007) presented photographs and data indicating that tank cleaning has been effective. The residual radioactivity in the four smaller tanks (WM-103 through -106) amounts to about 144 curies. In the larger tanks (WM-180 through -186) the residual radioactivity averages about 1,000 curies in each. Cs-137 and its short-lived daughter isotope Ba-137 account for about 95 percent of the total radioactivity. From November 2006 through March 2007 all four of the cleaned 30,000-gallon tanks were closed by being filled with grout. From April through July 2007, INL completed engineered placements of grout in seven cleaned 300,000-gallon tanks. The purpose of engineered placements is to push residual tank waste into configurations on the tank floor from which more waste can be recovered, and to ensure any remaining waste is well encapsulated in the grout. From July through August 2007, the time of the committee’s visit, additional grout pours were taking place to completely fill the seven tanks. INL expects that the SBW Treatment Project will empty the remaining four tanks by 2010. Piping associated with the tanks will also be grouted. Lockie (2007) concluded that no technology gaps have been identified that would prevent completion of tank closure of the tank farm facility by 2012.
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Advice on the Department of Energy’s Cleanup Technology Roadmap: Gaps and Bridges Remediation in the SDA of the RWMC The SDA, which is located within the RWMC, encompasses some 97 acres in total and contains 35 acres with buried waste, including TRU waste (pre-1970) and low-level waste deposited from 1970 to the present (Arenaz 2007). There are nearly 425,000 containers of mixed waste, 230,000 of which are from the former Rocky Flats plant (deposited pre-1970). DOE’s remedial investigation/baseline risk assessment determined that the baseline risk (without remediation) is not acceptable. According to this assessment 12 radionuclides and 6 nonradionuclides pose unacceptable risk to human health and the environment based on a 1,000-year simulation period (Arenaz 2007). Following this assessment a feasibility study outlined preliminary remediation goals and evaluated a range of remedial alternatives. These alternatives range from taking no action to complete removal of all source terms at the SDA. The alternatives are as follow: No action, but continued environmental monitoring using the existing network; Emplacing a modified Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Type C surface barrier; Emplacing an evapotranspiration surface barrier; In situ grouting of specific disposals that contain mobile Tc-99 and I-129; Partial retrieval of targeted wastes from four acres of the disposal pit area; Partial retrieval from two acres of pit area with grout slurry walls installed around the perimeter of the pit area; and Full retrieval of targeted waste. According to Arenaz (2007) the next steps are to develop a proposed plan, which might involve some combination of the above alternatives, consider public comments on the proposed plan, and draft a Record of Decision. During the site tour, site personnel also noted that improved technologies for excavator equipment as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) would help make the waste excavation activities at RWMC safer and faster. Soil and Groundwater Cleanup Site research to date indicates that the aquifer under the Idaho reservation comes to the surface in the Twin Falls, Idaho area. Within the boundaries of the Idaho reservation, the aquifer is contaminated with radionuclides,
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Advice on the Department of Energy’s Cleanup Technology Roadmap: Gaps and Bridges hazardous chemicals (including organics [light nonaqueous phase liquids and dense nonaqueous phase liquids]), and human waste. The committee heard two presentations that dealt with soil and groundwater cleanup. One dealt with a large contaminant plume in TAN (Lee 2007) and the other dealt with contaminants in the vadose zone at the RWMC (Arenaz 2007). Industrial wastewater was injected directly into the aquifer beneath TAN from 1953 to 1972. This has resulted in contamination in the aquifer, primarily trichloroethylene (TCE), between 200 to 400 feet deep, and a two-mile-long TCE plume. The aquifer is composed of fractured, basalt lava flows with interlayered sedimentary units deposited during periods of volcanic quiescence. INL has implemented a three-component remediation strategy, which includes: In situ bioremediation of the “hot spot” where the TCE concentration is greater than 20,000 micrograms per liter, Pump and treat in the medial zone where the TCE concentration is from 1,000 to 20,000 micrograms per liter, and Monitored natural attenuation in the distal zone where the TCE concentration is below 1,000 micrograms per liter. Lee (2007) reported research to improve the bioremediation strategy of the hot spot. Accomplishments thus far include increased dissolution of the source material to make it more available for biodegradation, increased mass of the microbe population capable of degrading the TCE around the source area, and increasing the biological activity surrounding the residual source area. The research also includes evaluating alternative remediation technologies in the medial zone. These evaluations include pump-and-treat, biological attenuation, and in situ biological degradation (Lee 2007). Groundwater monitoring in the vicinity of the RWMC includes 23 monitoring wells drilled into the aquifer. In 1987 a variety of chlorinated VOCs were found in the groundwater. The VOCs included carbon tetrachloride, TCE, chloroform, trichloroethane, and tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene). In 1994 a CERCLA Record of Decision identified vapor vacuum extraction, with treatment to destroy the extracted VOCs, as the preferred method of remediation. Arenaz (2007) reported that the system had destroyed a total of over 100,000 pounds of VOCs through mid-2007, and that the system will continue operating. D&D TAN was built between 1954 and 1961 to support the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Program. It was subsequently converted to support a variety of DOE-ID research projects. TAN encompassed several facilities including
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Advice on the Department of Energy’s Cleanup Technology Roadmap: Gaps and Bridges LOFT. The TAN Hot Shop contained the world’s largest remote-handling facility for radioactive materials. TMI core debris was shipped to the TAN Hot Shop where examination revealed signs of melting (Shaw 2007). Shaw (2007) described demolition of the TAN-650 containment dome of the LOFT. By 2012 the entire facility will be removed to ground level, with a cap placed over the remaining below-surface structure. Shaw (2007) also described demolition of the TAN-607 Hot Shop. Demolition was accomplished by cutting arches in its thick concrete shielding walls and then collapsing the remaining structure with explosive charges. This demolition was done without means to contain the resulting dust or debris. The Hot Shop was the last major facility to be demolished at TAN. Since April 2005, all 44 excess facilities have also been demolished. In July 2008, CWI completed the TAN project, 4 years ahead of schedule and significantly under budget. A large amount of mercury was reportedly used and lost during reactor testing at TAN. Site investigations have found mercury at TAN along rail tracks and in sumps. It is evidently uncertain if there is mercury under floors of facilities like the TAN-607 Hot Shop or similar areas. Some site personnel suspect that mercury contamination might be a significant problem. Gill (2007b) described a list of NE-owned facilities that are proposed for transfer to EM during the period from 2009 through 2012. The most challenging of these appears to be the experimental breeder reactor (EBR-II) and its associated facilities. EBR-II was constructed to demonstrate a complete breeder-reactor power plant with onsite fuel reprocessing. It operated from 1964 to 1969. The reactor is shut down and defueled. Sodium-bearing coolant remains in the reactor coolant loops and other components.10 At INTEC, 112 excess facilities and 4 more high-risk facilities (CPP-648, CPP-601, CPP-603A, and CPP-640) are slated for deactivation, decontamination, and demolition (Leake 2007). By the time these latter facilities undergo D&D they will likely have deteriorated, which could make entry by workers hazardous. Also at INTEC, extensive cleanup of the Flourinel Dissolution Process hot cell located in building CPP-666 is required to support the Remote-Handled Waste Disposition Project (Jines 2007). D&D Worker Safety Hain (2007) described two needs for improving worker safety during D&D and other work in areas where there is radiation or contamination: 10 At the time this report was in review, the committee was informed that a panel of experts from within the United States and Europe was to convene in February 2009 to evaluate alternatives for removal and remediation of the residual sodium inventory while minimizing secondary waste generation (personal communication from Jay Roach, INL).
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Advice on the Department of Energy’s Cleanup Technology Roadmap: Gaps and Bridges Technology to support work in high radiation areas, including enhanced radiological monitoring, especially against high background levels: Specifically, there is a need for improved rejection of the signal from naturally occurring radon decay products in air monitors used for alpha-particle-emitting airborne contaminants; and Personal protection equipment (PPE) designed for high temperatures and longer exposures to the radiation environment: Currently available PPE is often too heavy and bulky, resulting in limitation of motion, extra exertion, and overheating. PPE with externally supplied air can have problems with the supply hose. Workers who can operate excavation equipment in the RWMC for only short periods of time due to heat stress were one example of this need, which was pointed out during the committee’s site tour. Site personnel also noted the need for improved removal, handling, and disposal methods for asbestos in and on buildings, especially transite, an asbestos-containing material for wall panels, which is to be removed from higher elevations on the sides of buildings. SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL (SNF) AND SPECIAL NUCLEAR MATERIALS (SNM) As a part of the Idaho Cleanup Project (ICP), Idaho’s Materials Disposition Project (MDP) includes: (1) dispositioning by September 30, 2009, all SNM owned by the ICP and (2) managing all SNF and SNF facilities at INTEC and at Ft. St. Vrain, Colorado (Hain 2007). In 2005, the ownership of all SNM at Idaho was divided between DOE-NE and the ICP, which is under the responsibility of EM. Most ICP-owned SNM is unirradiated fuel (i.e., not SNF), and it is being rapidly dispositioned. Hain (2007) stated that the MDP has no technology needs related to SNM. The MDP also manages legacy SNF from DOE, Department of Defense, foreign and domestic research reactors, and commercial reactors. There are some 220 fuel types including aluminum- stainless steel- and zirconium-clad fuels. Much of this fuel was stored underwater in the CPP-666 basin at the time of the committee’s visit. Hain (2007) presented both near- and long-term research needs she judged important for safely managing SNF and related facilities at INTEC and Ft. St. Vrain, and to achieve Idaho Settlement Agreement SNF and RCRA Site Treatment Plan requirements, as follow: Immediate need: portable method of confirming uranium content of SNF received at INTEC. Since the best time and place to confirm content is during preload inspection, such a method needs to be portable, capable
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Advice on the Department of Energy’s Cleanup Technology Roadmap: Gaps and Bridges of operations in various small spaces, and applicable to all fuel types. Mid-term needs: technology to effectively dry and to confirm the dryness of SNF in a basket or container, and technology to drill into containers and provide internal inspection in high-radiation fields. Post-2012 needs: efficient, nondestructive characterization methods for SNF to support repository acceptance, support for packaging/storage facility design, and enhanced high-field radiological monitoring. Several SNF research needs are also relevant to managing other radioactive material and wastes. These include: Continued improvements in radiation control during inspection, transport, and handling; Continued improvements in crane design and other remote operated/robotic equipment: For SNF management, improvements in remote manipulator and crane design, including “Design for Reliability” and “Design for Maintainability” enhancements are needed. The range of fuel types and the fact that some older fuel designs did not include “grapple” positions makes improvements in manipulations an important factor in reducing handling costs. Recent Navy fuel operations involving welding of fuel canisters for disposal in a geologic repository have identified needs for similar improvements in the remote systems used for fuel packaging. For D&D and waste retrieval, the primary failure modes related to poor maintainability and equipment failure include clogging by the dust/effluvium inherent in the excavation environment and vibration from both continuous and periodic (impact) operation. Site operators mentioned material failure (cracking) and electronic problems due to vibration that seriously impact the lifetime of equipment. It is also very difficult to perform maintenance or failure analysis of components (to determine root causes and corrective options for redesign) on equipment used in a high-radiation environment, leading to more slowdowns. This was cited specifically in WMF 1612 but, most likely, is a sitewide issue. Technology development in the area of vibration isolation materials and devices would also be of benefit. Continued improvements in transport tracking:
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Advice on the Department of Energy’s Cleanup Technology Roadmap: Gaps and Bridges Difficulties in tracking of waste containers can be a very serious problem, resulting in delay of operations; site personnel described a need for improved capability for reliable reading (visibility) of bar codes; and Institution of paperless records management and acceptance of that approach in the Yucca Mountain quality assurance requirements would reduce the currently high records-storage costs and improve records retrieval in support of waste disposal at WIPP and Yucca Mountain. Work relevant to the need for characterizing SNF in a high-radiation field was reported by McIlwain (2007). According to his work, LaBr3:Ce is the optimium scintillator material for such application, and he has constructed a detector with optimized design for background suppression. He noted that such a detector may have applications for both WIPP and the planned Yucca Mountain repository. Challenging Materials In 2004, beryllium (Be) was declared as a “waste with no path to disposition.” This is a result of the recognition that the beryllium reflector blocks removed from the ATR were contaminated with cobalt-60, carbon-14, tritium, and TRU elements (as a result of initial uranium impurities in the Be). According to Gill (2007a) the research needs related to Be fall into two categories: preirradiation for the construction of replacement reflector blocks for the ATR without the impurities that generate Co-60 and TRU by-products, and postirradiation for how to handle the older Be reflector blocks that contain Co-60, C-14, and TRU. Preirradiation needs include: A source or purification process for Be that will result in low uranium content (to limit irradiation-formed TRUs) and low nitrogen content (to limit irradiation-formed C-14) of incoming Be stock, and Improved strength and stiffness to prevent or slow down swelling or cracking, thereby extending the life of Be components in a reactor. Postirradiation needs are: There is no ongoing research on the processes required for separating the Be from the radioactive contaminants in used Be reflectors. The chlorine dissolution process followed by separation needs research. The Be recovered from this process might be used for new reflectors, thus providing higher-purity Be of low contaminant content; and
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Advice on the Department of Energy’s Cleanup Technology Roadmap: Gaps and Bridges Waste stabilization using vitrification needs to be examined for Be. During the presentation, Gill noted that Be buried in the RWMC is a source of the tritium plume from that facility. OPPORTUNITIES FOR LEVERAGING R&D BEING SPONSORED BY ORGANIZATIONS OTHER THAN EM AT THE INL INL underwent a restructuring beginning in 2003, and the national laboratory was established with its current mission and organization in 2005. At that time R&D for cleanup was separated from site cleanup contracts. However, the laboratory is responsible for sitewide stewardship following cleanup. At the time of the committee’s visit, INL expected about $50 million in funding for energy and environmental R&D in FY 2007 within a total budget of about $707 million. The laboratory expected about $16 million from EM (Connolly 2007). In his presentation, Connolly noted that R&D at national laboratories now looks quite expensive to cleanup contractors, and that there is little incentive for contractors to use the national labs. Connolly (2007) reviewed INL’s major program areas, with emphasis on where EM might leverage research with these programs, as follow: Nuclear science and technology: R&D for Generation IV (GEN IV) reactors, nuclear fuel cycle development, and modeling and simulation. National and homeland security: nuclear fuel cycle, active interrogation systems (e.g., for detecting SNM), and communication systems, wireless technology, and sensors. Energy and environment: environmental science, biotechnology, artificial intelligence for robotics, and actinide chemistry. Currently funded DOE Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) activities and Office of Biological and Environmental Research (OBER) activities, as well as funding that can be leveraged through contractor-directed research activities, has potential for improving subsurface characterization and remediation technologies. LDRD and OBER R&D activities aimed at developing tools that can detect in situ biological
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Advice on the Department of Energy’s Cleanup Technology Roadmap: Gaps and Bridges activity (e.g., quantitative polymerase chain reaction, fluorescent hybridization, enzyme activity probes) can assist in supporting decisions to allow the monitored natural attenuation, or accelerated attenuation, of organic plumes (e.g., the TCE plume at TAN) and also, potentially metals contamination on the site. Development of substances that can stimulate the growth of remediating bacteria can also advance bioremediation activities on the site. Lee (2007) described R&D, partly funded through a site contractor, that aided in a decision to replace lactate with whey protein in the bioremediation project at the TAN. According to Lee’s presentation this decision appears to have helped improve the bioremediation activities for the TCE plume at TAN. Hagers (2007) described a collaboration between the INL and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization to develop a new HIP immobilization technology for calcine disposition. EXPERTISE AND INFRASTRUCTURE AT INL THAT MAY BE RELEVANT TO ADDRESSING THE R&D NEEDS OF THE EM CLEANUP PROGRAM Connolly (2007) reviewed core capabilities at INL that could be useful to address future EM R&D needs. Many of these capabilities are currently associated with other INL programs. These programs could provide cooperative or “leveraged” R&D opportunities for EM as noted above. Laboratory capabilities are as follow: Waste processing: basic science and technology including: computational chemistry, coordination and separations chemistry, molten salt chemistry, radiochemistry and trace element analysis, and thermodynamics of aqueous, nonaqueous, and ionic liquids. solvent extraction-based separations, thermal processing and immobilization with cold-crucible induction melter technology, immobilization using HIP capabilities, fluidized bed calcination and steam reforming, and advanced fuel cycle and Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) programs that are synergistic with EM waste processing.
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Advice on the Department of Energy’s Cleanup Technology Roadmap: Gaps and Bridges Groundwater and soil remediation:11 geochemistry: chemistry of surfaces and adsportion on mineral surfaces, molecular-level interpretation of geochemical reactions, and analytical tools for their investigation, and geochemistry of radionuclides. modeling: multiphase fluid flow, solute modeling, and performance assessment modeling. characterization: soil and rock physical properties, hydrologic properties, and autonomous monitoring. D&D: EM and NE have established a joint INL program to address the problem of removing metallic sodium from EBR-II. SNF: remote canister welding and nondestructive examination, and remote handling of SNF. The infrastructure that the committee observed during its site visit, and which might be relevant to addressing the R&D needs at Idaho and the other DOE sites, includes the following: The hot cell capabilities and the remote handling capabilities, The test reactor to provide high neutron fluxes to generate samples for test work, The CPP-666 fuel storage basin facility, The waste compaction (“super compactor”) facility, The test area for grout fill applications, The FBSR project developed for treatment of SBW, The radiological calibration laboratory and the radiation detection laboratory, Facilities within the Advanced Separations and Radiochemistry department, The cold crucible research facility, The geo-centrifuge facility, and The AMWTP. 11 Connolly (2007) noted that spatial dimensions of these capabilities range from the pore scale, through laboratory scale, and field scale.
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Advice on the Department of Energy’s Cleanup Technology Roadmap: Gaps and Bridges REFERENCES Arenaz, M. 2007. Waste Area Group 7—Operable Unit 7-13/14. Presented to the Committee on Development and Implementation of a Cleanup Technology Roadmap, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, August 29. CWI (CH2M-WG Idaho, LLC). 2007. Idaho Cleanup Project: Progress Report 2007. Available at https://idahocleanupproject.com/. Connolly, M. 2007. INL overview Presented to the Committee on Development and Implementation of a Cleanup Technology Roadmap, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, August 29. Gill, R. 2007a. Beryllium stabilization and disposition. Presented to the Committee on Development and Implementation of a Cleanup Technology Roadmap, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, August 29. Gill, R. 2007b. Contaminated and noncontaminated NE-owned facilities proposed for transfer to EM during the period of 2009 through 2012. Presented to the Committee on Development and Implementation of a Cleanup Technology Roadmap, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, August 29. Hain, K. 2007. Idaho Cleanup Project—SNF management and disposition; special nuclear materials disposition. Presented to the Committee on Development and Implementation of a Cleanup Technology Roadmap, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, August 29. Hagers, J. 2007. High Level Waste (Calcine) Disposition Project. Presented to the Committee on Development and Implementation of a Cleanup Technology Roadmap, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, August 29. IDEQ (Idaho Department of Environmental Quality). 2008a. About INL Facilities: Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center (INTEC). Available at http://www.deq.idaho.gov/inl_oversight/about/facilities/intec.cfm. IDEQ. 2008b. About INL Facilities: Test Area North (TAN). Available at http://www.deq.idaho.gov/inl_oversight/about/facilities/tan.cfm. Jines, A.T. 2007. Introduction to the Remote-Handled Waste Disposition Project (RWDP). Presented to the Committee on Development and Implementation of a Cleanup Technology Roadmap, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, August 29. Leake, B. 2007. Idaho Cleanup Project. Presented to the Committee on Development and Implementation of a Cleanup Technology Roadmap, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, August 29. Lee, M.H. 2007. Development and evaluation of innovative remediation tools: Improvements to long-term performance and cost at the Test Area North groundwater plume. Presented to the Committee on Development and Implementation of a Cleanup Technology Roadmap, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, August 29. Lockie, K.A. 2007. Tank closure progress at the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Engineering Laboratory Tank Farm Facility. Presented to the Committee on Development and Implementation of a Cleanup Technology Roadmap, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, August 29. McIlwain, M.E. 2007. Advanced radiation detector development for assay of transuranic elements in highly radioactive waste. Presented to the Committee on Development and Implementation of a Cleanup Technology Roadmap, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, August 29. NRC (National Research Council). 2005. Risks and Decisions about Disposition of Transuranic and High-Level RadioactiveWaste. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
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Advice on the Department of Energy’s Cleanup Technology Roadmap: Gaps and Bridges Olson, A. 2007. IWTU Sodium-Bearing Waste (SBW) Treatment Project. Presented to the Committee on Development and Implementation of a Cleanup Technology Roadmap, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, August 29. Shaw, R.M. 2007. Test Area North decontamination and decommissioning (D&D). Presented to the Committee on Development and Implementation of a Cleanup Technology Roadmap, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, August 29.