DWPF Pours Its 3,000th Canister of Radioactive Glass

October 18, 2010

AIKEN, S.C. – The Savannah River Site's Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF) poured its 3,000th canister of radioactive glass, a milestone for the robust facility.

Comparison of Canister Height to Empire State Building If 3,000 of the 10-feet tall, 2-feet wide canisters were stacked one on top of the other, it would reach 5 1/2 miles high, or the height of 24 Empire State Buildings stacked atop one another.

DWPF, which poured the milestone canister on Friday, leads the world in pouring environmentally acceptable borosilicate glassified, or vitrified, waste. Savannah River Remediation LLC (SRR) operates DWPF, the largest facility of its kind in the world, as part of its SRS liquid waste contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.

The facility converts high-level radioactive liquid waste, which is currently stored in 49 underground tanks at SRS, into a solid glass form suitable for long-term storage and disposal. Operations began in March 1996, and are expected to continue until about 2030. So far, DWPF has poured more than 11.7 million gallons of glassified waste.

The entire 36 million gallons of waste in the tanks awaiting disposition has about 350 million curies of radioactivity, of which the vast majority will be vitrified at DWPF. So far, the facility has immobilized in glass more than 31 million curies.

"DWPF continues to help us safely and efficiently dispose of radioactive waste," said Terrel Spears, Assistant Manager for Waste Disposition Project, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)-Savannah River Operations Office. "SRS is a leader in turning waste into glass thanks to more than a dozen years of successful DWPF operation, which makes future tank closures possible."

Jim French, SRR President and Project Manager, said employees have safely and consistently met or exceeded performance expectations at the facility.

"I am proud of their dedication, hard work and commitment to safety in achieving this milestone," French said. "Removing waste from our waste tanks and immobilizing it in glass is an important mission for this Site." The glassified waste is stored on site until a federal repository is established.

SRS is owned by DOE. The SRS Liquid Waste contract is managed by SRR, a team of companies led by URS Corp. with partners Bechtel National, CH2M Hill and Babcock & Wilcox. Critical subcontractors for the contract are AREVA, Energy Solutions and URS Safety Management Solutions.

Point of Contact: Amy Joslin, Director of Public Affairs and Project Communications