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Title: Environmental Assessment for the Closure of the High-Level Waste Tanks in F- & H-Areas at the Savannah River Site

Abstract

This Environmental Assessment (EA) has been prepared by the Department of Energy (DOE) to assess the potential environmental impacts associated with the closure of 51 high-level radioactive waste tanks and tank farm ancillary equipment (including transfer lines, evaporators, filters, pumps, etc) at the Savannah River Site (SRS) located near Aiken, South Carolina. The waste tanks are located in the F- and H-Areas of SRS and vary in capacity from 2,839,059 liters (750,000 gallons) to 4,921,035 liters (1,300,000 gallons). These in-ground tanks are surrounded by soil to provide shielding. The F- and H-Area High-Level Waste Tanks are operated under the authority of Industrial Wastewater Permits No.17,424-IW; No.14520, and No.14338 issued by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC). In accordance with the Permit requirements, DOE has prepared a Closure Plan (DOE, 1996) and submitted it to SCDHEC for approval. The Closure Plan identifies all applicable or relevant and appropriate regulations, statutes, and DOE Orders for closing systems operated under the Industrial Wastewater Permits. When approved by SCDHEC, the Closure Plan will present the regulatory process for closing all of the F- and H-Area High Level Waste Tanks. The Closure Plan establishes performance objectives or criteria to be metmore » prior to closing any tank, group of tanks, or ancillary tank farm equipment. The proposed action is to remove the residual wastes from the tanks and to fill the tanks with a material to prevent future collapse and bind up residual waste, to lower human health risks, and to increase safety in and around the tanks. If required, an engineered cap consisting of clay, backfill (soil), and vegetation as the final layer to prevent erosion would be applied over the tanks. The selection of tank system closure method will be evaluated against the following Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) criteria described in 40 CFR 300.430(e)(9): ( 1) overall protection of human health and the environment; (2) compliance with applicable or relevant and appropriated requirement: (ARARs); (3) long-term effectiveness and permanence; (4) reduction of toxicity, mobility, or volume through treatment; (5) short-term effectiveness; (6) implementability; (7) cost; (8) state acceptable; and (9) community acceptance. Closure of each tank involves two separate operations after bulk waste removal has been accomplished: (1) cleaning of the tank (i.e., removing the residual contaminants), and (2) the actual closure or filling of the tank with an inert material, (e.g., grout). This process would continue until all the tanks and ancillary equipment and systems have been closed. This is expected to be about year 2028 for Type I, II, and IV tanks and associated systems. Subsequent to that, Type III tanks and systems will be closed.« less

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Savannah River Site, Aiken, SC (US)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of NEPA Policy and Assistance (EH-42) (US)
OSTI Identifier:
831173
Report Number(s):
DOE/EA-1164
TRN: US0405646
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Resource Relation:
Other Information: PBD: 31 Jul 1996
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
12 MANAGEMENT OF RADIOACTIVE WASTES, AND NON-RADIOACTIVE WASTES FROM NUCLEAR FACILITIES; CLOSURES; COMPLIANCE; ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS; EVAPORATORS; HIGH-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTES; PLANTS; REGULATIONS; REMOVAL; SAFETY; SHIELDING; SOILS; STORAGE FACILITIES; TANKS; TOXICITY; US SUPERFUND; WASTES; DEFENSE WASTE PROCESSING FACILITY; RADIOACTIVE; RESIDUAL; CONTAMINATION; SALTSTONE; SOUTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL

Citation Formats

N /A. Environmental Assessment for the Closure of the High-Level Waste Tanks in F- & H-Areas at the Savannah River Site. United States: N. p., 1996. Web. doi:10.2172/831173.
N /A. Environmental Assessment for the Closure of the High-Level Waste Tanks in F- & H-Areas at the Savannah River Site. United States. doi:10.2172/831173.
N /A. 1996. "Environmental Assessment for the Closure of the High-Level Waste Tanks in F- & H-Areas at the Savannah River Site". United States. doi:10.2172/831173. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/831173.
@article{osti_831173,
title = {Environmental Assessment for the Closure of the High-Level Waste Tanks in F- & H-Areas at the Savannah River Site},
author = {N /A},
abstractNote = {This Environmental Assessment (EA) has been prepared by the Department of Energy (DOE) to assess the potential environmental impacts associated with the closure of 51 high-level radioactive waste tanks and tank farm ancillary equipment (including transfer lines, evaporators, filters, pumps, etc) at the Savannah River Site (SRS) located near Aiken, South Carolina. The waste tanks are located in the F- and H-Areas of SRS and vary in capacity from 2,839,059 liters (750,000 gallons) to 4,921,035 liters (1,300,000 gallons). These in-ground tanks are surrounded by soil to provide shielding. The F- and H-Area High-Level Waste Tanks are operated under the authority of Industrial Wastewater Permits No.17,424-IW; No.14520, and No.14338 issued by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC). In accordance with the Permit requirements, DOE has prepared a Closure Plan (DOE, 1996) and submitted it to SCDHEC for approval. The Closure Plan identifies all applicable or relevant and appropriate regulations, statutes, and DOE Orders for closing systems operated under the Industrial Wastewater Permits. When approved by SCDHEC, the Closure Plan will present the regulatory process for closing all of the F- and H-Area High Level Waste Tanks. The Closure Plan establishes performance objectives or criteria to be met prior to closing any tank, group of tanks, or ancillary tank farm equipment. The proposed action is to remove the residual wastes from the tanks and to fill the tanks with a material to prevent future collapse and bind up residual waste, to lower human health risks, and to increase safety in and around the tanks. If required, an engineered cap consisting of clay, backfill (soil), and vegetation as the final layer to prevent erosion would be applied over the tanks. The selection of tank system closure method will be evaluated against the following Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) criteria described in 40 CFR 300.430(e)(9): ( 1) overall protection of human health and the environment; (2) compliance with applicable or relevant and appropriated requirement: (ARARs); (3) long-term effectiveness and permanence; (4) reduction of toxicity, mobility, or volume through treatment; (5) short-term effectiveness; (6) implementability; (7) cost; (8) state acceptable; and (9) community acceptance. Closure of each tank involves two separate operations after bulk waste removal has been accomplished: (1) cleaning of the tank (i.e., removing the residual contaminants), and (2) the actual closure or filling of the tank with an inert material, (e.g., grout). This process would continue until all the tanks and ancillary equipment and systems have been closed. This is expected to be about year 2028 for Type I, II, and IV tanks and associated systems. Subsequent to that, Type III tanks and systems will be closed.},
doi = {10.2172/831173},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = 1996,
month = 7
}

Technical Report:

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  • The Department of Energy (DOE) has prepared an environmental assessment (EA) (DOEEA-1164) for the proposed closure of the high-level waste tanks in F- and H-Areas on the Savannah River Site (SRS), near Aiken, South Carolina. Based on the analyses in the EA, DOE has determined that the proposed action is not a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment within the meaning of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969. Therefore, the preparation of an environmental impact statement is not required, and DOE is issuing this Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).
  • The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) predecessor agency, established the Savannah River Site (SRS) near Aiken, South Carolina, in the early 1950s. The primary mission of SRS was to produce nuclear materials for national defense. With the end of the Cold War and the reduction in the size of the United States stockpile of nuclear weapons, the SRS mission has changed. While national defense is still an important facet of the mission, SRS no longer produces nuclear materials and the mission is focused on material stabilization, environmental restoration, waste management, and decontamination and decommissioning ofmore » facilities that are no longer needed. As a result of its nuclear materials production mission, SRS generated large quantities of high-level radioactive waste (HLW). The HLW resulted from dissolving spent reactor fuel and nuclear targets to recover the valuable radioactive isotopes. DOE had stored the HLW in 51 large underground storage tanks located in the F- and H-Area Tank Farms at SRS. DOE has emptied and closed two of those tanks. DOE is treating the HLW, using a process called vitrification. The highly radioactive portion of the waste is mixed with a glass like material and stored in stainless steel canisters at SRS, pending shipment to a geologic repository for disposal. This process is currently underway at SRS in the Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF). The HLW tanks at SRS are of four different types, which provide varying degrees of protection to the environment due to different degrees of containment. The tanks are operated under the authority of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (AEA) and DOE Orders issued under the AEA. The tanks are permitted by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) under South Carolina wastewater regulations, which require permitted facilities to be closed after they are removed from service. DOE has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and SCDHEC to close the HLW tanks after they have been removed from service. Closure of the HLW tanks would comply with DOE's responsibilities under the AEA and the South Carolina closure requirements and be carried out under a schedule agreed to by DOE, EPA, and SCDHEC. There are several ways to close the HLW tanks. DOE has prepared this Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to ensure that the public and DOE's decision makers have a thorough understanding of the potential environmental impacts of alternative means of closing the tanks. This Summary: (1) describes the HLW tanks and the closure process, (2) describes the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process that DOE is using to aid in decision making, (3) summarizes the alternatives for closing the HLW tanks and identifies DOE.s preferred alternative, and (4) identifies the major conclusions regarding environmental impacts, areas of controversy, and issues that remain to be resolved as DOE proceeds with the HLW tank closure process.« less
  • DOE proposes to close the high-level waste (HLW) tanks at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, DOE Orders, and the ''Industrial Wastewater Closure Plan for F- and H-Area High-Level Waste Tank Systems'' (approved by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control), which specifies the management of residuals as waste incidental to reprocessing. The proposed action would begin after bulk waste removal has been completed. This EIS evaluates three alternatives regarding the HLW tanks at the SRS. The three alternatives are the Clean and Stabilize Tanks Alternative, the Clean and Remove Tanks Alternative,more » and the No Action Alternative. The EIS considers three options for tank stabilization: Fill with Grout (Preferred Alternative); Fill with Sand; and Fill with Saltstone. Under each alternative (except No Action), DOE would close 49 HLW tanks and associated waste handling equipment including evaporators, pumps, diversion boxes, and transfer lines. Impacts are assessed primarily in the areas of water resources, air resources, public and worker health, waste management, socioeconomic impacts, and cumulative impacts.« less
  • The Savannah River Site (SRS) High Level Waste (HLW) storage tanks have been in service for 20 to 45 years. Degradation evaluations of DOE HLW tanks conclude that pitting and stress corrosion cracking are two primary degradation modes for the carbon steel tanks in extended service. The SRS HLW tank service experience has been that some of the tanks have suffered stress corrosion cracking that led to leakage failures. In comparison, Hanford Double-Shell Tank experience has been instances of pitting. Of the 16 total Types I and II tanks at SRS, 11 have leaked into the annular space, including allmore » four Type II tanks. Laboratory testing has shown that the leaksites were caused by nitrate stress-corrosion cracking (SCC). Field examinations of the tanks, and laboratory testing and analysis, has shown that the cracking is confined to the residual stress field of the fabrication and repair welds. Chemistry control for HLW was developed and instituted at SRS in the late 1970's to prevent the further initiation of cracking and to avoid initiation of pitting. However, what are assumed to be pre-existing stress corrosion cracks, not observed through visual examination, have been found to contribute to leakage in the re-use of several of these tanks. A leak mitigation/crack-sealing system would allow for continued storage and planned retrieval operation without additional leakage into the secondary pans. This document provides the basis for the functions and requirements of a proposed leak mitigation system (LMS) for HLW tanks.« less
  • The Department of Energy (DOE) has prepared an environmental assessment (EA) (DOE/EA-1061) for the proposed off-site volume reduction of low-level radioactive wastes (LLW) generated at the Savannah River Site (SRS), near Aiken, South Carolina. Based on the analyses in the EA, DOE has determined that the proposed action is not a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment within the meaning of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969. Therefore, the preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS) is not required, and DOE is issuing this Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).