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For Immediate Release July 20, 2001
Media Contact: Julie Petersen   (803) 725-2889



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AIKEN, SC; July 20 -Today the Department of Energy (DOE) Savannah River Operations Office (SR) announced the availability of the Savannah River Site Salt Processing Alternatives Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Based on DOE's evaluation of research results and comments received on the Draft Supplemental EIS, the Final Supplemental EIS identifies the Caustic Side Solvent Extraction technology as the preferred alternative 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).

The Caustic Side Solvent Extraction alternative will use a highly specific organic extractant to separate cesium from the high-level waste salt solution. The cesium will be transferred from the aqueous salt solution into an insoluble organic phase, using a centrifugal contactor to separate the two phases. Recovery of the cesium by back extraction from the organic phase into a secondary aqueous phase will generate a concentrated cesium solution. Prior to the cesium separation, a separate process step will be used for separation of soluble strontium, key actinides, and residual sludge to meet salt solution decontamination requirements and avoid interference in the solvent extraction process.

After separation, the high-activity fraction of the salt waste (strontium/actinide solids and concentrated cesium solution) 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 over 1100 glass waste canisters produced since radioactive operations began in 1996.

The Draft Supplemental EIS evaluated the potential environmental impacts of construction and operation of four alternative technologies - Small Tank Precipitation, Ion Exchange, Solvent Extraction, and Direct Disposal in Grout - and a No Action alternative.

The Savannah River Site Salt Processing Alternatives Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DOE/EIS-0082-S2D) is available online at A Record of Decision on the Salt Processing Alternatives will be issued no sooner than 30 days after the Notice of Availability of the Final Supplemental EIS and will document the Department's final decision on the selected technology.




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