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Title: Pathways for Disposal of Commercially-Generated Tritiated Waste

From a waste disposal standpoint, tritium is a major challenge. Because it behaves like hydrogen, tritium exchanges readily with hydrogen in the ground water and moves easily through the ground. Land disposal sites must control the tritium activity and mobility of incoming wastes to protect human health and the environment. Consequently, disposal of tritiated low-level wastes is highly regulated and disposal options are limited. The United States has had eight operating commercial facilities licensed for low-level radioactive waste disposal, only four of which are currently receiving waste. Each of these is licensed and regulated by its state. Only two of these sites accept waste from states outside of their specified regional compact. For waste streams that cannot be disposed directly at one of the four active commercial low-level waste disposal facilities, processing facilities offer various forms of tritiated low-level waste processing and treatment, and then transport and dispose of the residuals at a disposal facility. These processing facilities may remove and recycle tritium, reduce waste volume, solidify liquid waste, remove hazardous constituents, or perform a number of additional treatments. Waste brokers also offer many low-level and mixed waste management and transportation services. These services can be especially helpful for smallmore » quantity tritiated-waste generators, such as universities, research institutions, medical facilities, and some industries. The information contained in this report covers general capabilities and requirements for the various disposal/processing facilities and brokerage companies, but is not considered exhaustive. Typically each facility has extensive waste acceptance criteria and will require a generator to thoroughly characterize their wastes. Then a contractual agreement between the waste generator and the disposal/ processing/broker entity must be in place before waste is accepted. Costs for tritiated waste transportation, processing and disposal vary based a number of factors. In many cases, wastes with very low radioactivity are priced primarily based on weight or volume. For higher activities, costs are based on both volume and activity, with the activity-based charges usually being much larger than volume based charges. Other factors affecting cost include location, waste classification and form, other hazards in the waste, etc. Costs may be based on general guidelines used by an individual disposal or processing site, but final costs are established by specific contract with each generator. For this report, seven hypothetical waste streams intended to represent commercially-generated tritiated waste were defined in order to calculate comparative costs. Ballpark costs for disposition of these hypothetical waste streams were calculated. These costs ranged from thousands to millions of dollars. Due to the complexity of the cost-determining factors mentioned above, the costs calculated in this report should be understood to represent very rough cost estimates for the various hypothetical wastes. Actual costs could be higher or could be lower due to quantity discounts or other factors.« less
  1. Savannah River Site (SRS), Aiken, SC (United States). Savannah River National Lab. (SRNL). Environmental Sciences and Biotechnology
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Savannah River Site (SRS), Aiken, SC (United States). Savannah River National Lab. (SRNL)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Environmental Management (EM)
Country of Publication:
United States