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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 1, 2016

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control,
U.S. Energy Department Agree to Accelerate
Removal of Radioactive Waste at Savannah River Site

Agreement includes Treatment of 36 Million Gallons of High Level Waste

 

COLUMBIA - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the United States Department of Energy (DOE) today announced an agreement on the process for treatment of more than 36 million gallons of radioactive and toxic liquid waste in aging tanks at the Savannah River Site (SRS). 

In June 2016 DOE completed construction of the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF), which will significantly increase processing rates in the effort to empty and close 43 remaining radioactive liquid waste tanks at SRS. To date, DOE has successfully closed eight High Level Waste (HLW) tanks at SRS.

"DHEC's responsibility is to protect the environment and public health in South Carolina, and this agreement furthers our goal of maximized waste treatment on a timely schedule to lower the risk for the state," said DHEC Director Catherine Heigel. "We appreciate the DOE working with us to make important progress toward ensuring the long-term safety and health of South Carolinians."

"This agreement underscores our continued commitment to furthering the Department of Energy's environmental cleanup mission at Savannah River Site and reaffirms our good working relationship with South Carolina," said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. "We look forward to our ongoing collaborative work with South Carolina to identify and execute beneficial near-term and long-term environmental solutions in the state, advance new environmental science and technology at the Savannah River National Laboratory, and carry-out critical nuclear security missions."

The Energy Department agreed to a new timeline for treating the HLW at the SWPF and committed to additional technological investments rather than litigate over penalties for missed deadlines. These innovative technologies, in addition to the SWPF, will help achieve committed treatment capacities.

The agreement paves the way for large-scale treatment to move forward without the delay and expense of litigation, furthering progress on tank closure and risk reduction.

Under the agreement:

  • SRS will process more than 36 million gallons of liquid waste starting in 2016 through 2022 to mitigate the delay in startup of the SWPF.
  • DOE is funding roughly $200 million of continuing work on innovative technologies that will make progress towards DOE's critical clean-up mission, including:
    • Tank Closure Cesium Removal, new at-tank treatment capacity;
    • Next Generation Solvent, an advancement that makes the SWPF more effective; and
    • Sonar Mapping, which enables faster assessment of small remaining residuals at cleaned tanks, cutting time from tank closure.

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For a photo of DHEC Director Catherine E. Heigel and Savannah River Site Manager Jack R. Craig after signing the agreement, please click here

For a copy of the agreement, please click here.

 

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DHEC Media Relations
media@dhec.sc.gov
803.898.1127