Workers construct the vertical storage casks to contain the canisters of vitrified high-level radioactive waste.
WEST VALLEY, N.Y. – EM’s West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP) has crossed the halfway mark in its work to relocate 278 canisters of vitrified high-level radioactive waste for eventual disposal offsite.
Relocating the canisters from the Main Plant Process Building to an onsite storage pad is necessary before WVDP and contractor CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley (CHBWV) can demolish that building and the Vitrification Facility. The project marked the first time vitrified high-level waste was relocated for onsite interim storage in the U.S.
“This team has worked safely and tirelessly to plan, construct, train and operate the specialized equipment to relocate the canisters from the former reprocessing facility to allow for the demolition of the building to begin in the spring of 2017,” EM’s WVDP Director Bryan Bower said. “I could not be more proud of this team.”
Workers relocate a vertical storage cask.
A vertical storage cask is transported to the interim storage pad.
Vertical storage casks moved to the interim storage pad are shown here .
Workers on Aug. 30 moved the 29th of 56 vertical storage casks with the 145th canister of vitrified waste about a half mile to the storage pad. The relocation effort, which began in November 2015, is scheduled for completion by December 2016, about one year ahead of schedule.
The project required years of extensive planning, design, construction, and building modifications, and the purchase of special transport equipment. Each cask — containing a stainless steel overpack with five canisters — weighs about 87.5 tons. Built onsite, the casks have 4-inch-thick steel liners and 20 inches of steel-reinforced concrete, and are designed for use for at least 50 years. Their design is based on spent nuclear fuel dry cask storage systems used throughout the world, with modifications for long-term storage of vitrified high-level waste.
Once the site of the first and only commercial nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in the U.S., WVDP is now an environmental cleanup and waste management project. In 1972, commercial nuclear fuel reprocessing ceased in the Main Plant Process Building. Workers vitrified the waste from 1996 to 2002, placing it into the 10-foot-tall canisters and storing them inside the building.