For Immediate Release September 272007
Media Contact: Julie Petersen
(803) 952-7697




Aiken , SC - Today the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) authorized the construction of the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF) at the Savannah River Site (SRS) following independent validation of the DOE’s cost and schedule estimate. The new facility will treat highly radioactive salt solutions currently stored in underground tanks at SRS and prepare these solutions for ultimate disposition.  The SWPF will safely process 33 million gallons of radioactive liquid and salt cake at SRS.


“The Department now has a validated cost and schedule from which we can effectively plan, build and operate this first-of-a-kind facility,” Jeff Allison, Manager of DOE’s Savannah River Operations Office, said.  “Today’s milestone continues the momentum for waste clean-up at the Savannah River Site and supports the Department’s highest priority of closing nuclear waste tanks and reducing risk to the environment.” 


The validated cost and schedule estimates a total project cost of $900 million and projected radioactive startup in November 2013. This estimate includes a risk assessment and management plan that defines project risks and contingencies to the project cost and schedule.  


To ensure the utmost security and safety, DOE upgraded the design requirements for SWPF to include:  increasing the safety classification for the facility and resulting technical requirements; cost of materials and labor; enhancements to address seismic/structural design issues and associated construction modifications.  This estimate is the first to be validated by DOE and independent technical review teams.


In November 2005, the Department directed upgraded design requirements for SWPF to enhance radiological confinement systems and structures to provide additional assurance of worker safety in the event of an earthquake or other natural hazards.  The SWPF contractor completed an Enhanced Preliminary Design and DOE commissioned an independent technical review team to evaluate that estimate. Industry and cost management experts performed a detailed review of the initial cost estimate and validated DOE’s approach finding no outstanding technical issues, with all major findings and/or observations closed or a path forward established.


Of the approximate 36 million gallons of radioactive wastes stored in SRS tanks, 33 million gallons is liquid and salt cake.  The SWPF will separate key high-activity radionuclides from the low-activity salt waste, using extraction technology for the separation of cesium and a monosodium titanate sorption/filtration technology for separation of strontium and actinides.  After separation, the high-activity salt waste will be vitrified in the Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF) and temporarily stored onsite until disposal in a geologic repository.  The remaining high-volume/low-activity salt waste will be treated and disposed of at the Saltstone Disposal Facility.  This dual-track approach reduces the number of DWPF canisters to be filled and the facility’s associated lifecycle costs.







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