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Lab Technician Tanja Bolt measures chemicals in the new laboratory at the Defense Waste Processing Facility.

Savannah River Site Liquid Waste Update: Multi-Functional Lab Added; Filling Units With Salt Solution

November 13, 2014

AIKEN, S.C. - A new multi-functional laboratory at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Savannah River Site (SRS) gives workers a new and improved place to provide back-up lab support and more space for chemical storage, all work related to the work of processing high-level waste.

The new lab is part of the work being conducted by Savannah River Remediation (SRR), the liquid waste contractor for DOE at SRS.

The lab became operational last month, replacing a laboratory that had been in use since January 1993. The older lab was housed in two trailers that were past their service life.

The new lab, housed in a modular structure next to Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF) provides a "clean" environment (one that is not used for radioactive samples) for work that needs to be conducted, for training and also serves as a back-up lab for the Effluent Treatment Facility, another part of the Site's liquid waste system.

The lab is being used for a number of activities key to processing waste, including:

Jim Folk, DOE-Savannah River Acting Assistant Manager for Waste Disposition Project, said the lab will turn-around lab samples more quickly and will allow technicians to work in a lab that has all spare equipment at their fingertips.

"This lab supports the liquid waste mission to operate most efficiently and allows for us to have better training facilities for laboratory employees," said Folk.

The new lab was designed to maximize efficiency, including such features as an electronic chemical inventory base that will notify workers when to restock.

SDUs Being Filled

Significant strides are being made at SRS in the treatment and disposal of salt as the first two circular Saltstone Disposal Units (SDUs) have now been filled.

The SDUs play an essential role in the closure of the 45 liquid waste tanks on the site. About 90 percent of the waste in these tanks is salt waste that must be treated and disposed of in SDUs before the tanks can ultimately be closed. Salt waste solutions are pumped from the tanks and sent to the Saltstone Processing Facility, where it is mixed with cement powders. The resulting grout is then pumped into the SDUs for permanent disposal.

This important work was accomplished by Savannah River Remediation (SRR), the site's liquid waste contractor. SRR built these two now-closed SDUs in 2012, which hold a total of about 6 million gallons of grouted salt waste. With these two SDUs full, SRR began the process of filling four more SDUs in August.

Additionally, construction began on the next generation of disposal unit, called SDU 6. The new unit will be approximately 10 times larger, holding about 30 million gallons. Instead of 36 pairs of the smaller Saltstone disposal units, SRS will need only seven of the larger units, which will result in cost savings of about $300 million over the life of the program by requiring less space to design and build.

SDU 6 is scheduled to be ready to receive salt waste in May 2017 in time to meet the increased processing rate that will be realized when the Salt Waste Processing Facility begins operations.

SRR is composed of a team of companies led by URS, with partners Bechtel National, CH2M HILL and Babcock & Wilcox. Critical subcontractors for the contract are AREVA, EnergySolutions and URS Professional Solutions.

Media Contacts:

Amy Scales 803.952.7213
Dean Campbell 803.208-8270

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Savannah River Site
Aiken, South Carolina, 29808
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