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Environmental Quality Control (EQC)

Grouting Begins on First SRS Waste Tanks Since 1997

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is pleased that tank closure is underway at Savannah River Site (SRS). On the morning of April 2, 2012, SRS began closure of two hazardous waste tanks, Tanks 18 and 19. These tanks once held over a million gallons each of highly radioactive and toxic liquid wastes from nuclear weapons production. Constructed in the 1950s before environmental laws were in place, these tanks do not meet today’s standards for safety and are under a DHEC schedule for closure. Closure of these aging tanks represents a tremendous reduction in risk to people and the environment.

The closure plans for these tanks are contained in a Closure Module which was available for public review in the fall of last year. Public comments were received from four sources. All public comments were supportive of the closure process and schedule. DHEC approved the Closure Module ahead of the expected schedule on March 7, 2012. Closure should be complete by late summer. The DHEC schedule requires completion by December 31, 2012.

"We've worked hard with Savannah River Site and other federal partners to resolve many complex tank closure issues and reduce the risk of an environmental incident," S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control Director Catherine Templeton said. "This has paved the way for the closure of Tanks 18 and 19, and for the remaining tanks to close at a faster pace. We look forward to a continued collaboration with SRS in laying the groundwork for more cleanup activities." In addition to public comment and DHEC oversight, the United States Environmental Protection Agency also reviewed the Closure Module. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission provided consultation.

Similar tanks at SRS are under a DHEC schedule for closure by 2022. The radioactive and hazardous liquid stored in the tanks is under a DHEC schedule for treatment by 2028.

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