NAS Releases LLW Workshop Proceedings

On June 6, 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) released the final publication, Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management and Disposition: Proceedings of a Workshop.  The publication documents the proceedings from a workshop that was organized by the NAS Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board, Division on Earth and Life Studies, at the request of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE or Department).  The workshop was held in Washington, DC on October 24-25, 2016.

During the workshop, presenters and attendees provided perspectives from academia, industry, federal agencies (including those outside of DOE), state governments, international organizations, public interest groups, and national laboratories.  The proceedings provide a factual description of the workshop presentations and discussions and are limited to the views and opinions of those participating in the event.  The proceedings do not contain consensus findings or recommendations.

Overview  DOE asked NAS to organize this workshop to discuss approaches for the management and disposition of low-level radioactive waste.  The workshop considered similarities between successful case studies, in which unique disposition pathways have been developed to address low-level radioactive wastes, and explored ways to extend these similar characteristics to problematic wastes—i.e., low-level radioactive wastes currently without a clear disposition pathway.  Specifically, the workshop explored the key physical, chemical, and radiological characteristics of low-level radioactive waste that govern its safe and secure management (i.e., packaging, transport, storage) and disposition, in aggregate and for individual waste-streams; and, how key characteristics of low-level waste are incorporated into standards, orders, and regulations that govern the management and disposition of low-level radioactive waste in the United States and in other major waste-producing countries.

Workshop Structure  The workshop began by defining the “universe” of low-level radioactive waste within the United States and elsewhere—first by introducing the types of waste that exist and then by exploring the standards, orders, regulations, and laws that define and control their disposal.  Case studies were then presented to highlight the successful disposal of a variety of wastes that previously lacked a clear disposition pathway—these case studies are referred to as “success stories.”  The studies were selected from within and outside of the United States.  The participants explored common themes that led to success within the case studies such as: the use of existing regulations and standards (i.e., waste classification) to provide an anchor for disposal decisions; the identification of lessons learned from similar or analogous problems such as Canada’s or France’s approach to managing and disposing of very low-level waste (VLLW); and, the importance of site characteristics for disposal decisions.  These themes were organized into an approach to guide future discussions and disposition decisions for challenging low-level radioactive waste streams—referred to in the proceedings as a “common themes approach.”

Waste Streams  The common themes approach was applied to a set of five pre-selected challenging low-level radioactive waste streams that spanned a variety of waste characteristics including Greater-Than-Class C (GTCC) and commercial transuranic waste (TRU) waste in excess of 100 nCi/g; sealed sources; VLLW and very low-activity waste; incident waste; and, depleted uranium.  One leader from each breakout group introduced a specific challenging low-level radioactive waste stream to the full workshop and later summarized the breakout group’s results of applying the common themes approach to the issues associated with the disposal of this waste stream.  Several participants identified short-term actions or next steps that could be taken to show progress in addressing each challenging waste stream in the final session of the workshop.

Challenges  Each of the waste streams discussed at the workshop presents a unique set of challenges for disposal.  For example, GTCC waste and commercial TRU waste in excess of 100 nCi/g lack a clear disposition pathway, while VLLW and very low-activity waste have a disposition pathway in which the level of protection may be considered incommensurate with the hazard, or a potentially non-optimal disposition pathway.  According to NAS, the application of the common themes approach to these diverse waste streams was intended to explore how adaptable this approach would be as a tool in discussing or presenting a variety of disposal options.

Background  The Department’s Office of Environmental Management (DOE-EM) is responsible for the cleanup of the sites used by the federal government for nuclear weapons development and nuclear energy research.  DOE-EM cleanup involves retrieval, treatment, storage, transportation, and disposition of hundreds of different radioactive and hazardous solid and liquid wastes.  Low-level radioactive waste—which is defined by exclusion as waste that does not meet the statutory definitions for spent nuclear fuel, high-level radioactive waste, or transuranic waste—is physically and chemically diverse, ranging from lightly contaminated soils and building materials to highly irradiated nuclear reactor components.  It is the most volumetrically significant waste stream (millions of cubic meters) being generated by the cleanup program.

The NAS proceedings are available to interested stakeholders for free download at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24715/.  For additional information, please contact Jennifer Heimberg, Senior Program Officer, Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board (NRSB), Board on Life Sciences (BLS), Board on Environmental Change and Society (BECS), NAS at (202) 334-3293 or at jheimberg@nas.edu.

Waste Management Accepting Abstracts & Fellow Award Nominations

Abstracts are now being accepted for the Waste Management 2018 Conference, which will be held at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona on March 18-22, 2018.  This year’s conference theme is Nuclear and Industrial Robotics, Remote Systems and Other Emerging Technologies.

Background  The annual Waste Management Conference, presented by WM Symposia (WMS), is an international symposium concerning the safe and secure management of radioactive wastes arising from nuclear operations, facility decommissioning and environmental remediation, as well as storage, transportation and disposal and associated activates.  WMS was founded to provide a forum for discussing and seeking cost-effective and environmentally responsible solutions for the safe management and disposition of radioactive waste and radioactive materials.  WM2018 marks the 44th year of the conference and is expected to attract over 2,000 nuclear specialists from over 35 countries, presenting more than 500 papers in over 130 technical sessions.

Supporting Organizations  Supporting organizations include the American Nuclear Society (ANS), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation (IFNEC) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development/Nuclear Energy Agency (OECD/NEA).  The conference is also organized in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).

Abstract Submissions  WMS welcomes abstracts in nine topic areas related to nuclear waste management.  The submission site became available in mid-June 2017. To submit an abstract, interested parties will need to visit the WMS website at www.wmsym.org and login using a registered username and password.  The deadline for submission is Friday, August 11, 2017.  Please note, there is a limit of abstract submissions to two (2) per presenter, but no limit on the number of abstracts that may be co-authored.

Fellow Award Nominations  WMS is also accepting nominations for the conference Fellow Award.  Nominations must be submitted no later than August 11, 2017.  Nomination forms should be submitted to awards@wmarizona.org.  All questions related to the WMS Fellowship should be directed to Fred Sheil, Chair of the WM Board of Directors Honors & Awards Committee.  Sheil can be reached by phone at +44-19-46-813342 or by email at Fred@Sheil.myzen.co.uk.

The Call for Abstracts and the detailed Topic Listing are available online at www.wmsym.org.  For additional information on the Waste Management Conference, please call (480) 557-0263 or email to shelley@wmarizona.org.

Alert Declared at Hanford Site

At 8:26 a.m. on May 9, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Richland Operations Office activated the Hanford Emergency Operations Center after an alert was declared.  In particular, officials responded to reports of a cave-in of a 20-foot section of a tunnel that is hundreds of feet long that is used to store contaminated materials.  The tunnel is located next to the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility, also known as PUREX, which is located in the center of the Hanford Site in an area known as the 200 East Area.

Overview  During a routine surveillance of the area in the morning, a 20-foot-wide hole in the roof of one of the tunnels was observed, leading to the precautionary sheltering of employees and notifications to area counties and states.  After no contamination was detected, the shelter in place order was lifted and employees were sent home from work early as a precaution.  Workers continue to monitor the area for contamination as a crew prepares to fill the hole with clean soil.

Actions taken to protect site employees included the following:

  •   As a precaution, workers in the vicinity of the PUREX facility—as well as the Hanford Site north of the Wye Barricade (southern entrance to the site)—were told to shelter in-place.
  •   Access to the 200 East Area of the Hanford Site, which is located in the center of the Hanford Site, has been restricted to protect employees.

All personnel in the vicinity of the PUREX facility were accounted for and there were no reports of injuries.

Background  In the 1950s and 1960s, two tunnels were constructed next to the PUREX former chemical processing plant.  The tunnels were constructed of wood and concrete and covered with approximately 8 feet of soil.  The tunnels were constructed to hold rail cars that were loaded with contaminated equipment and moved into the tunnels during the Cold War.

The approximately 360-foot-long tunnel where the partial collapse occurred contains 8 rail cars loaded with contaminated equipment.  That tunnel feeds into a longer tunnel that extends hundreds more feet and contains 28 rail cars loaded with contaminated equipment.  The hole opened up in the shorter tunnel near where it joins the longer tunnel.  The tunnels were sealed in the mid-1990s and are checked periodically.

DOE hosted a briefing on its Hanford Site Facebook channel.  Interested stakeholders can view the briefing on the Hanford Site Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/HanfordSite/.

DOE and NRC to Hold Third Advanced Reactor Workshop

On April 25-26, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) continued their joint workshop series on innovative reactor technologies in Bethesda, Maryland.  The workshop, which was open to the public, begin at 8:30 a.m. on April 25, 2017.  It was held at the Bethesda North Marriott in Bethesda, Maryland.  The workshop included presentations as well as structured and open discussions, using a facilitator.

“We are encouraging interested parties to continue discussing the most efficient and effective path forward to safely develop and deploy advanced reactors in the United States,” said Vonna Ordaz, Acting Director of the NRC’s Office of New Reactors.  “We expect to discuss topics such as modeling and testing innovative technologies, as well as how vendors might approach getting their designs approved for U.S. use.”

The NRC defines advanced reactors as those technologies using something other than water to cool the reactor core.  The NRC is currently discussing one such advanced design with a vendor considering applying for design certification.  The NRC remains available for early-stage discussion with other potential advanced reactor vendors.

For more information on the workshop, please contact the Nishka Devaser at (301) 415-5196 or at nishka.devaser@nrc.gov; John Segala at (301) 415-1992 or at john.segala@nrc.gov; Trevor Cook at (301) 903-7046 or at trevor.cook@nuclear.energy.gov; or, Tom Sowinski at (301) 903-0112 or at thomas.sowinski@nuclear.energy.gov.

Draft Agenda Released for the Spring 2017 LLW Forum Meeting

Embassy Suites Downtown Convention Center Hotel
Denver, Colorado on April 24-25, 2017

The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Forum (LLW Forum) has released the draft agenda for its spring 2017 meeting, which will be held at the Embassy Suites Downtown Convention Center Hotel in Denver, Colorado on April 24-25, 2017.

As a reminder, the discount rate hotel room block for the meeting closes in just three weeks on April 5, 2017.  There is limited space remaining in the discount room block.   Accordingly, interested stakeholders are encouraged to register and make hotel reservations for the meeting at your earliest convenience.

The Rocky Mountain Low-Level Radioactive Waste Board and Midwest Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact Commission are co-sponsoring the meeting.

The meeting documents—including the meeting bulletin, registration form and draft agenda—have been posted to the LLW Forum’s web site at www.llwforum.org.  

 

Agenda Topics

The following is a list of agenda topics for the meeting:

  •  overview and analysis re Executive agency and Congressional transition and impacts on the nuclear industry;
  •  the National Academies’ low-level radioactive waste management and disposition workshop;
  • U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulatory activities and updates including Part 61 rulemaking initiative;low-activity waste scoping study; rulemaking SECY re financial assurance for byproduct material; and, assessment for the low-level waste branch;
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) activities and updates including final revisions to National Emission Standards for Radon Emissions from Operating Mill Tailings; publication of final Protective Action Guides and Planning Guidance for Radiological Incidents; and, public comments and next steps re the 40 CFR Part 190 Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR);
  •  U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) activities and updates;
  • updates and activities re the Waste Control Specialists commercial and federal low-level radioactive waste disposal facility in Andrews County, Texas;
  • updates and activities re the Clive low-level radioactive waste disposal facility in Tooele County, Utah;
  • consideration of alternative options for the management of low activity waste;
  •     requirements for plans regarding waste minimization;
  •     tools to assist decision makers regarding low-level waste management;
  •     perspectives from the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) on the state of the commercial nuclear power industry;
  •     industry insights and perspectives regarding waste management and disposition;
  •     addressing abandoned cyclotrons and decommissioning in Colorado;
  • survey results re alternative technologies for irradiators and other radioactive sources and devices;
  • implementation of new Part 37 requirements and review of cyber-security for nuclear-related issues;
  • proposals to license Greater-than-Class C (GTCC) and transuranic waste cells and spent nuclear fuel storage in Texas;
  • past, present and future use of uranium in Colorado;
  •  development of a radiation response volunteer medical reserves corp unit;
  •   lack of oversight for management of exempt sealed radioactive sources;
  • the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD) Part S Working Group re suggested state regulations on financial assurance for sealed sources;
  • potential revisions to regulations or processes re Category 3 source protection and accountability; and,
  •  removal and packaging of Category 1 and 2 self-shielded devices.

Attendance

Officials from states, compacts, federal agencies, nuclear utilities, disposal operators, brokers/processors, industry, and other interested parties are invited and encouraged to attend.

The meeting is an excellent opportunity to stay up-to-date on the most recent and significant developments in the area of low-level radioactive waste management and disposal.  It also offers an important opportunity to network with other government and industry officials and to participate in decision-making on future actions and endeavors affecting low-level radioactive waste management and disposal.

Location and Dates

The spring 2017 LLW Forum meeting will be held on Monday, April 24 (9:00 am – 5:00 pm) and Tuesday, April 25 (9:00 am – 1:00 pm) at: 

Embassy Suites by Downtown Convention Center Hotel
1420 Stout Street
Denver, Colorado 80202

 

The hotel offers a gateway to Denver’s lively downtown scene.  Boasting a contemporary convention venue, the hotel is within walking distance of the best attractions in the downtown area.

Registration

All persons must pre-register for the meeting and pay any associated registration fees in order to be allowed entry.  Registration forms are needed in order to ensure that you receive a meeting packet and name badge.  Accordingly, interested attendees are asked to please take a moment to complete the registration form at your earliest convenience  You can submit the registration form electronically via the online link or print a hard copy and return it to the Administrator of the Rocky Mountain Board at the mailing address, e-mail or fax number listed at the bottom of the form.

The meeting is free for up to two individuals representing members of the LLW Forum.  Additional and non-member registration is $500, payable by check only to the “LLW Forum, Inc.”  (Credit card payments are not accepted.)

Reservations

Persons who plan to attend the meeting are strongly encouraged to make their hotel reservations and send in their registration forms as soon as possible, as we have exceeded our block at the last few meetings.

A limited block of hotel rooms has been reserved for Sunday, April 23rd and Monday, April 24th at the rate of $178.00 plus tax per night (for single/double occupancy).

To make a reservation, please call (800) 445-8667.  Please ask for the LLW Forum block in order to get the discounted meeting rate.

The deadline for reserving a room at the discounted rate is Wednesday, April 5, 2017.

Transportation and Directions

From Denver International Airport (DIA), one way taxi fare is available for approximately $70.00.  Another option is the train from DIA to Union Station downtown.  From Union Station, you can walk or take the 16th street mall shuttle the additional 1.2 miles to the hotel off of Stout Street.

For additional information, please contact Todd D. Lovinger, the LLW Forum’s Executive Director, at (754) 779-7551 or go to www.llwforum.org