Movement of Cesium/Strontium Capsules to Dry Storage
The Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility (WESF) in the Central Plateau holds 1,936 capsules of cesium and strontium that were removed from tank waste and stored underwater. These capsules represent approximately one-third of the total amount of curies at the Hanford Site. WESF was not built for permanent storage of cesium and strontium and the facility presents a significant risk and long-term mortgage cost. The Hanford Communities support the ongoing effort to move the capsules to dry interim storage as soon as possible.
Tank Farm Operations
Funding for tank farm operations must be adequate to prepare for waste treatment and ensure maintenance of the aging infrastructure in a safe configuration while waste is removed from tanks. Many of the tanks are well beyond their design life, and many single shell tanks plus at least one double shell tank are known to have leaked. Elimination, or proactive action to address the risk must continue to be a top priority.
Great progress had been made in recent years on groundwater remediation with the completion of pump and treat facilities. However, groundwater remediation is far from complete, and these efforts must be continued across the Hanford Site. In addition, the existing systems should be optimized to reach their full capacity and be able to respond to emerging conditions in the tank farms or elsewhere in the Central Plateau. This is essential to ensure the protection of the Columbia River and prevent the migration of contamination from the Central Plateau to the River Corridor.
Tank Waste Treatment
The Hanford Communities believe that removing waste from the tanks, stabilizing and immobilizing the material, and putting it into safe storage to reduce risk must continue to be a high priority for the cleanup effort. The tanks are aged and there is a possibility that there could be another leak in a Double Shell Tank (DST) that could significantly impact available tank space. It is also imperative that the Tank Farms are prepared to safely and reliably deliver waste feed to the WTP. Great progress is being made at WTP with commissioning and the transition to start-up of the Direct Feed Low Activity Waste Facility (DFLAW) and we support initiatives such as the Tank-Side Cesium Removal System (TSCR) that will aid in addressing the tank waste issues and prevent unnecessary spending to construct new tanks.
The Hanford Communities believe it is critical for DOE to remediate the radiological waste site underneath the 324 Building as quickly as possible given its close proximity to the Columbia River and the City of Richland. Continued efforts to monitor and remediate contaminant plumes must also be a priority.
Legacy Facilities, High Risk Mitigation
Subsequent to the PUREX tunnel collapse, additional high-risk situations have been identified as requiring mitigation. The Hanford Communities believe it is critical for DOE to continue to proactively address the highest risks across the Hanford Site.
Critical infrastructure systems including water, fire protection, sewer systems, primary electrical power, and roads require ongoing maintenance to ensure safety and reliability. Additionally, the focus of work to the Central Plateau and startup of operational facilities on-site creates the need for updates and modifications of the systems to support future operations.
Waste Treatment Plant (WTP) Diesel
The Hanford Communities remains concerned about plans to burn approximately 45,000 gallons of diesel per day at full operation of the WTP. A natural gas pipeline to supply the Central Plateau is a much better alternative and the EIS should be completed. DOE is also encouraged to explore opportunities to use process heat from proposed new advanced nuclear reactors (supported by DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program) to provide steam for the WTP as well.
Both of these options will provide substantial environmental benefits, reduce wear and tear on regional highways, and support statewide desires to reduce carbon emissions that align with DOE’s mission.