EM Update | Vol. 8, Issue 15 | Aug. 15, 2016DOE Office of Environmental Management sent this bulletin at 08/15/2016 03:55 PM EDT
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EM Update | Vol. 8, Issue 15 | Aug. 15, 2016
The Integrated Waste Treatment Unit at EM's Idaho Site.
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – Fluor Idaho, the new cleanup contractor at EM’s Idaho Site, is using a Colorado technology research and development facility to help resolve complex challenges related to the initiation of liquid waste treatment operations at the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU).
Hazen Research, near Golden, has been used as a technology testing ground since 1961. The independent research facility will soon use its fluidized bed technology to demonstrate new control strategies and refine operating conditions to correct problems experienced at IWTU — instabilities and unexpected temperature gradients of the fluidized bed along with the formation of scale deposits on the internal surfaces of the treatment vessel.
The IWTU is intended to treat 900,000 gallons of radioactive liquid waste at the Idaho Site using a steam reforming process. The process converts the liquid waste, consisting of hazardous chemicals, radioactive constituents, and heavy metals, to a dry, granular product. During the process, the primary treatment vessel is heated up to 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit. Liquid waste is sprayed into a reaction chamber filled with tiny beads that are kept in motion, or fluidized, with a combination of gases such as nitrogen, steam and oxygen.
As the liquid dries, the residue solidifies onto the surfaces of tiny beads, similar to the creation of a pearl. Gases produced during this process are captured in a series of filters to ensure the plant emissions meet state air quality standards. The dried product is then transferred to stainless steel canisters and placed within concrete vaults for on-site storage until a national geologic repository is available to accept the waste.
The IWTU has been tested four times using a waste simulant that resembles the actual waste that it was built to treat. During each test, the instabilities appeared periodically during the testing, and scale deposits were formed on the interior walls of the treatment vessel. The last waste simulant run, which took place in May, incorporated a series of recommendations from technical experts who attended a Chemistry Summit and Fluidized Bed Workshop held earlier this year in Idaho Falls. Significant improvements were observed regarding the quality of the product and the amount of scale was reduced. The remaining challenges relate to instabilities during operations and temperature gradients.
Fluor is working with national laboratories, industry experts and Hazen Research to assess and demonstrate new control strategies and refine operating conditions for the plant. Testing at the Hazen facility will use a small-scale fluidized bed reactor similar to the treatment vessel at IWTU and will utilize the waste simulant that the Idaho facility has been using during its four prior testing campaigns. Fluor and Hazen engineers will test different conditions to assess the effectiveness of the new control strategies and assess potential adjustments that could be made to the IWTU to improve its operation. Information gained from the Hazen testing will be used for the next waste simulant run at IWTU.
Kurt McCracken, sludge treatment project engineer, prepares to test the equipment and tools to remove the basin’s sludge.
RICHLAND, Wash. – EM’s Richland Operations Office (RL) and contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company (CH2M) are in the final phases of preparing to remove highly radioactive sludge from the 100-K West Basin on the Hanford Site.
Sludge is a silt-like substance made of tiny fuel corrosion particles and other metal fragments created through plutonium production; it’s stored just a few hundred yards from the Columbia River.
Workers at the Maintenance and Storage Facility tested the sludge removal equipment from April to July, determining that the equipment and hardware are capable of completing the sludge removal project. The system is known as the Engineered Container Retrieval & Transfer System (ECRTS).
“The removal and treatment of the sludge remains one of our most important projects and is significant in our efforts to protect the Columbia River,” said Mark French, RL’s federal project director for the river corridor division. “We’re very pleased with the results of the testing.”
Workers at the Maintenance and Storage Facility prepare to test the equipment and tools to remove the basin’s sludge.
Attention to detail and collaboration of knowledge has led to this great moment:
“Our team of engineers and other experts have been putting in great efforts to ensure the system worked as designed and we can finally declare a huge victory on this phase,” said Kurt McCracken, CH2M lead engineer with the sludge treatment project.
These tests led to actual operation of the system moving a sludge simulant from a replica container through a system and into the sludge transport and storage container. This successful evolution provides significant confidence that ECRTS is close to being ready for removing actual sludge from the basin.
RICHLAND, Wash. – Watch time-lapse footage of workers preparing the T Plant canyon deck at the Hanford Site to receive K-West Reactor Fuel Storage Basin sludge by removing the legacy equipment shown in the 2012 photo at top. The equipment was used to process sludge from a pit at the K-East Reactor Fuel Storage Basin in 2005. Removal of the equipment, reflected in the 2016 photo immediately above, will allow access to the canyon cells that will be modified to store sludge removed from the K-West basin in 2018 as part of the EM Richland Operations Office’s cleanup.
RICHLAND, Wash. – With demolition of the Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP) on the Hanford Site rapidly approaching, crews are busy preparing the site surrounding the facility. EM’s Richland Operations Office and contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company recently demolished a small, empty non-radiological warehouse. A time-lapse video of the demolition can be viewed here. They will demolish another warehouse in the coming weeks. Removal of these small buildings immediately adjacent to PFP is needed to make room for the heavy equipment, waste load-out cans, dust suppression equipment and other equipment that will be used to demolish PFP. Of the 91 buildings that make up the PFP complex, 68 have been demolished.
Uranium mill tailings from EM’s Moab Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Project are transported to an engineered disposal cell near Crescent Junction, Utah.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – No U.S. Department of Transportation recordable accidents resulted from DOE’s nearly 17,000 radioactive, hazardous material and waste shipments across 3.4 million miles in fiscal 2015.
That’s among the highlights of a new report on the fiscal 2015 accomplishments of DOE’s Office of Packaging and Transportation (OPT), which is positioned within EM. In comparison, DOE completed more than 12,000 such shipments in fiscal 2014 with no recordable accidents.
"I am happy to say that OPT made significant accomplishments in fiscal year 2015, most notably that there were no Department of Transportation recordable accidents during the year," OPT Director Joanne Lorence said. "Our team members work together to manage quite a broad spectrum of packaging and transportation activities and programs for the Department and we look forward to continuing to provide the best service possible to the complex."
OPT provides support and oversight to assure shipments of radioactive and other hazardous materials are carefully planned, tracked, safe, secure, timely and efficient. The office gives centralized support and expertise to the Department’s packaging and transportation activities that cannot be provided through a site-by-site approach across the complex.
The report details other fiscal 2015 OPT achievements, including:
In fiscal 2016, OPT is exploring innovative ways to improve TEPP training courses to enhance the readiness of responders to transportation incidents involving radioactive material. The office also is improving its Motor Carrier Evaluation Program. In fiscal 2015, OPT completed 13 evaluations of motor carriers involved in transporting the Department’s hazardous materials. OPT worked to make the program more cost effective and streamlined in fiscal 2015.
SRNS Structural Engineer Yara Soto-Toledo, left, foreground, works with high school senior Madelyn Cooper at the camp.
AIKEN, S.C. – Contractors at the Savannah River Site (SRS) recently sponsored an adventurous summer camp on the University of South Carolina Aiken (USCA) campus to help high school girls understand the value of a science, technology, engineering and math- (STEM) based education.
“The mini-camp is called Girls Get SET, where SET stands for science, engineering and technology,” said Patti Bennett with Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS). “We also want to help them get set for college, careers and life.”
SRNS, the management and operations contractor at SRS, and one of its parent companies, Honeywell, sponsored the camp.
The participants from South Carolina and Georgia engaged in hands-on activities related to STEM topics. In what’s called Engineers to the Rescue, campers applied engineering know-how, problem-solving skills and design savvy to find their way after a mock earthquake disrupted their camping trip. They rebuilt their shelter on shaky soil, filtered drinking water, sent a message for help and harnessed wind energy to obtain their next meal.
Local sophomore Makayla Harris said she was pleased with how the camp connected with her desire to graduate college as an electrical engineer.
“Probably the most important thing I’ve learned so far is that you have to be creative. You have to use your mind and come up with things on your own,” said Harris. “Trial and error will help you get the answers.”
Harris added, “It’s also been inspiring to have all of these nice ladies, engineers and scientists to listen to and learn from. You don’t have to worry about people saying ‘Oh, you are a female, and you can’t be an engineer.’ It just makes me want to work harder and do more to reach my goals in life.”
Campers learned about nuclear science through interactive games and activities in which they used a device for measuring radioactivity.
The girls also learned about computer programming.
“We believe it is important for them to have some basic knowledge related to information technology,” Bennett said. “In today's world, almost any career will involve the use of technology in some form. Even if they're not going to become computer programmers, being able to understand and communicate in the IT area is a valuable skill.”
The three-day event also featured a dinner forum with scientists and engineers from SRS and nearby companies who talked one-on-one with the campers about career opportunities.
“When I was in school, our counselors emphasized teaching, nursing and other careers typically associated with females,” said Bennett. "The primary goal of this camp is to inspire girls to consider careers in nontraditional fields and to give them a basic introduction to a few of those career options.”
A $7,500 donation from SRNS covered the costs of housing, meals, supplies and a stipend for camp counselors.
"Summer camps like Girls Get SET provide additional opportunities for students to further build their level of knowledge in these areas that will undoubtedly prove to be very important in life," said Wallis Spangler, SRNS senior vice president, National Nuclear Security Administration Operations & Programs.
For most of the girls, it was their first opportunity to sleep in a dormitory and experience other aspects of campus life. Counselors integrated discussions on college life into the camp.
"A lot of high school students are nervous about leaving home to live on a college campus. This camp hopefully helped to alleviate some of that anxiety," Bennett said.
The camp creates a “win-win-win” situation for all involved, Bennett said.
“The girls had an awesome experience, SRNS potentially influenced future candidates for STEM-related jobs and USCA had the opportunity to showcase their campus to prospective students,” she said.
Jared Bierbach, EM Headquarters
Chandler Bethley, Hanford Site
Destry Henderson, Hanford Site
Kaylyssa Hughes, Nevada National Security Site
Danielle Miller, Idaho Site
Tania Reyes Mills, Hanford Site
Christy Morris, Nevada National Security Site
Rae Moss, Hanford Site
Michael Nartker, EM Headquarters
Elizabeth Scott, Portsmouth Site
David Sheeley, EM Headquarters
Erik Simpson, Idaho Site
Michelle Teeters, Portsmouth Site
DT Townsend, Savannah River Site
John Wilkerson, Hanford Site
Ben Williams, Oak Ridge Site