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Savannah River Site Receives Regulatory Concurrence on Waste Tank Milestone

AIKEN, S.C. (May 30, 2024) – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM) received concurrence from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on May 23 that the Savannah River Site (SRS) has successfully removed waste from Tank 10 and may now proceed to the next step in the closure process for that tank.

The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management has received concurrence from state and federal regulators to suspend waste removal activities in Tank 10 at the Savannah River Site and move to the next step in the closure process, accomplishing a Federal Facility Agreement milestone. Pictured at left is the interior of Tank 10 during the cleaning process, showing a large buildup of saltcake, and at right, the tank's interior is shown after the cleaning process.


Completing this phase of work on the waste tank, called preliminary cease waste removal (PCWR), is the first waste tank-related Federal Facility Agreement (FFA) milestone achieved by SRS liquid waste contractor Savannah River Mission Completion (SRMC), and it was accomplished seven months ahead of schedule.


PCWR is a regulatory milestone for old-style tanks that designates agreement between DOE, SCDHEC, and EPA that, based on preliminary information, there is reasonable assurance that performance objectives for tank closure will be met. Also, the concurrence means that work can begin on the sampling and analysis phase of the tank closure process. This next phase will verify these conclusions, based on laboratory analysis of any remaining material and final residual volume determination, prior to final isolation and stabilization of the waste tank.


The FFA establishes a procedural framework, including liquid waste tank milestone agreements and other site cleanup priorities. It also specifically outlines the schedule for the waste removal and operational closure of the remaining 16 oldest-style tanks at SRS. Eight of the 51 tanks at SRS have already been operationally closed. All 43 remaining waste tanks are slated to be operationally closed by 2037.


Jim Folk, DOE-Savannah River assistant manager for waste disposition, said PCWR is a significant step toward achieving eventual tank closure.


“The required process for properly closing these waste tanks is very demanding, and DOE is pleased with the safe work to accomplish this task,” Folk said. “While there are many steps to closing all the SRS waste tanks, we have a path and a plan to get there.”


SRMC President and Program Manager Dave Olson said he continues to be proud of the work by employees who demonstrate they want to achieve the mission.


“Our workers know the impact our liquid waste can have on people and the environment,” Olson said. “Achieving PCWR is another stride in protecting our communities.”


Tank 10, built between 1951 and 1953, is 75 feet in diameter and stands 24.5 feet tall. The tank has a capacity of 750,000 gallons.


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