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For Immediate Release March 30, 2001
Media Contact: Julie Petersen   (803) 725-2889


DOE Annouces Availability of Draf SEIS
On Salt PRocessing Alternatives

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Aiken, SC -- Today the Department of Energy (DOE) Savannah River Operations Office (SR) announces the availability of a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which evaluates alternatives for separating the high-activity and low-activity salt waste from the liquid high-level radioactive waste now stored in underground tanks at the Savannah River Site (SRS). After separation, the high-activity fraction of the salt waste would then be vitrified in the Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF) and stored until it could be disposed of as high-level waste in a geologic repository. The low-activity fraction would be disposed of as saltstone in vaults at SRS. High-level radioactive sludge waste continues to be successfully vitrified at DWPF, with approximately 1075 glass waste canisters produced since radioactive operations began in 1996.

An alternative to separate the high-activity and low-activity salt waste is needed to replace the In-Tank Precipitation (ITP) process that could not achieve production goals and safety requirements. This Supplemental EIS analyzes the impacts of construction and operation of four alternative technologies - Small Tank Precipitation, Ion Exchange, Solvent Extraction, and Direct Disposal in Grout - and No Action alternative.

Replacement of the existing ITP process constitutes a substantial change to the operation of DWPF, as evaluated in a 1994 Supplemental EIS (DOE/EIS-0082-S) to a 1982 EIS (DOE/EIS-0082); therefore, DOE-SR has prepared this second Supplemental EIS to address the potential environmental impacts of alternatives to the ITP process. The Savannah River Site Salt Processing Alternatives Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DOE/EIS-0082-S2D) is available online at

Today's publication of the Notice of Availability of the Draft Supplemental EIS in the Federal Register begins the 45-day public comment period ending May 14, 2001. The Department will hold two public meetings to discuss the Draft Supplemental EIS and receive comments:

    Tuesday, May 1, 2001
    1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
    North Augusta Community Center
    101 Brookside Drive
    North Augusta, South Carolina Thursday, May 3, 2001
    1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
    Holiday Inn Coliseum
    630 Assembly Street
    Columbia, South Carolina

Comments may be submitted orally or in writing to DOE at these public meetings and by voice mail, e-mail, or regular mail to:

    Mr. Andrew R. Grainger, NEPA Compliance Officer
    U.S. Department of Energy
    Savannah River Operations Office
    Building 742-A, Room 183
    Aiken, South Carolina 29802
    ATTN: Salt Processing
    (800) 881-7292 (voice message and fax)

DOE will consider all comments received or postmarked by the end of the comment period in the preparation of the Final Supplemental EIS. Comments received or postmarked after the close of the comment period will be considered to the extent practicable.




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