CONCLUSION

Significant operational risks and costs running into the billions of dollars will be incurred at Hanford by removing all tank wastes and processing them for off-site disposal as DOE has committed to do under the current Triparty Agreement. The committee knows of no analysis that compares all the risks and costs of meeting that commitment with projected reductions in the long-term risks. The committee understands that use of the containment-in-place approach for long-term storage of radioactive waste may not be presently compatible with state or federal environmental regulations or agreements, but further study is recommended on the basis of developments in containment-in-place technology and the need to retain alternatives for the future to meet changing resources and strategies.

The containment-in-place technologies will be required for the Hanford tanks even if the tank contents are removed, as currently planned. Barrier technologies will be needed to contain leakage while the tanks are being washed outtitlend, in the long term, to prevent further migration of waste constituents that have already leaked out or which cannot be removed. The question that must be addressed is whether a containment-in-place approach can be effective for many tanks with some or all of the waste materials left in the tanks. The committee believes that this difficult problem needs to be revisited on an individual tank basis, and in the process, the alternative of containment-in-place must be given serious consideration. This is not a committee recommendation for containment-in-place as a solution, but rather a recommendation that it be considered and evaluated on its technical, fiscal, environmental, and public health merits.



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OCR for page 9
THE POTENTIAL ROLE OF CONTAINMENT-IN-PLACE IN AN INTEGRATED APPROACH TO THE HANFORD RESERVATION SITE ENVIRONMENTAL REMEDIATION CONCLUSION Significant operational risks and costs running into the billions of dollars will be incurred at Hanford by removing all tank wastes and processing them for off-site disposal as DOE has committed to do under the current Triparty Agreement. The committee knows of no analysis that compares all the risks and costs of meeting that commitment with projected reductions in the long-term risks. The committee understands that use of the containment-in-place approach for long-term storage of radioactive waste may not be presently compatible with state or federal environmental regulations or agreements, but further study is recommended on the basis of developments in containment-in-place technology and the need to retain alternatives for the future to meet changing resources and strategies. The containment-in-place technologies will be required for the Hanford tanks even if the tank contents are removed, as currently planned. Barrier technologies will be needed to contain leakage while the tanks are being washed outtitlend, in the long term, to prevent further migration of waste constituents that have already leaked out or which cannot be removed. The question that must be addressed is whether a containment-in-place approach can be effective for many tanks with some or all of the waste materials left in the tanks. The committee believes that this difficult problem needs to be revisited on an individual tank basis, and in the process, the alternative of containment-in-place must be given serious consideration. This is not a committee recommendation for containment-in-place as a solution, but rather a recommendation that it be considered and evaluated on its technical, fiscal, environmental, and public health merits.

OCR for page 9
THE POTENTIAL ROLE OF CONTAINMENT-IN-PLACE IN AN INTEGRATED APPROACH TO THE HANFORD RESERVATION SITE ENVIRONMENTAL REMEDIATION This page in the original is blank.