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For Immediate Release October 18, 2001
Media Contact: Julie Petersen   (803) 725-2889



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AIKEN, SC -- The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it has selected Caustic Side Solvent Extraction as the Savannah River Site (SRS) Salt Processing preferred alternative for treating salt-bearing high-level radioactive waste. The Department's decision is outlined in a Record of Decision (ROD) that was published in the Federal Register earlier this week.

A Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analyzed and evaluated the potential environmental impacts of four action alternatives for treating the high-level radioactive salt waste - by separating the high-activity salt waste from the low-activity salt waste - as a precursor for solidifying it in glass at the Savannah River Site's Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF). Based on this analysis, and the results of laboratory-scale research and development and independent reviews, DOE determined that any of the following alternatives evaluated could be implemented with minimum environmental impacts: Small Tank Precipitation, Ion Exchange, Solvent Extraction, and Direct Disposal in Grout. However, the Department selected the Caustic Side Solvent Extraction alternative because it has fewer technical uncertainties and DOE has experience with similar solvent extraction processes.

Initial implementation of the Caustic Side Solvent Extraction technology will consist of designing, constructing, and operating a facility in the Site's S-Area. The Department will evaluate the processing capacity needed based on waste removal capabilities, optimization of waste blending for DWPF, facility conceptual design data, and other considerations.

The Savannah River Site Salt Processing Alternatives Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DOE/EIS-0082-S2D) and the Record of Decision are available online at




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