SRS completes construction of salt waste disposal units

  • Thursday, September 12, 2013

Another set of nonhazardous, salt waste disposal units has been constructed and completed at the Savannah River Site.

Saltstone Disposal Units – or SDU – 3 and 5 each consist of four, 2.9 million-gallon circular cells. The construction and utilization of the two units is being handled by Savannah River Remediation, SRS’s liquid waste contractor.

The units were constructed to provide on-site, permanent disposal of low-level radioactive salt waste. The waste was transported from inside the Site’s underground waste storage tanks.

“The SDU design has been proven in other industrial applications and is proving successful for us,” said Mark Schmitz in a press release. Schmitz is Savannah River Remediation’s salt waste disposition project director.

“We look forward to continuing the disposition of low-level salt waste by utilizing this technology,” he added.

Before their usage, a readiness assessment was conducted on the units by an independent review team.

The team checked for various qualifiers, including preparations for the units, that the necessary resources were available, that people involved were properly trained and that hazards were identified and alleviated before the process began.

In addition to the readiness assessment, the liquid waste contractor also received disposal operations authorization from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The organization submitted a letter to the Department of Energy outlining several on-site agreements that the department is in danger of violating, including starting operations of a Salt Waste Processing Facility by Oct. 31, 2015.

“Since 1990, when the Saltstone Disposal Facility became operational, we have learned a great deal about salt waste disposal,” said Terrel Spears, assistant manager for the project, in the press release. “This new storage capacity adds further steps to enhance the safety of the environment, workers and the public.”

Saltstone Disposal Unit 2, cells A and B, were successfully constructed before units 3 and 5, and are expected to be completely filled this fall.

SRS is owned by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard news team and joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and graduated from Georgia Southern University with a journalism degree in May 2012.

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