BACKGROUND

Electrometallurgical processing technology produces two waste streams: 5

  • the metallic waste form (MWF) and

  • the ceramic waste form (CWF).

The novel structure and composition of the MWF require a verification approach that can demonstrate its suitability as a final waste form for geologic disposal. R&D and evaluation led to the selection of glass-bonded sodalite as the reference CWF.

The committee in this report assesses waste qualification activities related to the MWF and CWF produced by this process and provides an evaluation of the technical consistency and comprehensiveness of the EMT activities that support ultimate acceptance of EMT waste forms by DOE's Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (RW).

WASTE FORM QUALIFICATION AND ACCEPTANCE

DOE, through its Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (DOE-RW), is assessing the viability of permanent disposal of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high-level waste (HLW) in a deep geologic repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.6 The performance and compatibility of the ANL waste forms must be assessed within a system context of overall repository safety. DOE asked the committee to evaluate ANL's progress in taking appropriate steps for obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals in the future.

The EMT Program has developed a waste qualification program that is patterned after the protocols used for the waste qualification of defense HLW (DHLW) borosilicate glass.7 To date, both commercial spent fuel and vitrified defense HLW have been subjected to detailed characterizations conducted with respect to their performance in a geologic repository.8 For the EMT waste forms, preliminary evaluation is being performed by the DOE-RW, and no final decision on the EMT waste form has been made by RW.

Issues remain that affect the ability of the EMT Program to fully document its plans and schedule for achieving a future waste-acceptance decision. First, the EMT Program is concluding a directed demonstration phase that supports issuance of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) regarding continued application of the EMT to process the remaining inventory of EBR-II spent fuel. A final consideration is that the initial draft of RW's Acceptance Criteria document should be issued for review in 1999. This new document may modify the actual waste-acceptance strategies and waste-acceptance criteria that the EMT Program is currently following.

5  

This process also produces a uranium stream. ANL does not consider uranium a waste product.

6  

Viability Assessment of a Repository at Yucca Mountain, DOE/RW-0508, U.S. Department of Energy Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, Washington, D.C., 1998.

7  

DWPF Waste Acceptance Reference Manual (U), WSRC-IM-93-45, Westinghouse Savannah River Company, Savannah River Site, Aiken, SC, 1993.

8  

Mined Geologic Disposal System Waste Acceptance Criteria Document, B00000000-01717-4600-00095 REV 00, TRW Environmental Safety Systems, Inc., Las Vegas, NV, 1997, pp. 5-1 – 5-8.



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