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For Immediate Release February 22, 1999
Media Contact: Julie Petersen   (803) 725-2889


DOE-SR To Prepare Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement
On High-Level Waste System Alternatives

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AIKEN, SC; February 22 -Today the Department of Energy (DOE) Savannah River Operations Office (SR) issued a Notice of Intent to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on the proposed replacement of the existing In-Tank Precipitation (ITP) process at the Savannah River Site (SRS). Replacement of the existing ITP process constitutes a substantial change to the operation of the Defense Waste Processing Facility, as evaluated in a 1994 SEIS (DOE/EIS-0082-S); therefore, DOE-SR will prepare a second SEIS that will address the potential environmental impacts of alternatives to the ITP process.

The ITP process was intended to separate high-level waste salt solutions into a high-level precipitate waste that is chemically suitable for vitrification at the DWPF and a low-level filtrate waste that can be safely processed and disposed of as saltstone in vaults at the SRS. The waste separation was to occur in existing, large high-level waste tanks. Initial ITP testing and operation and subsequent studies have demonstrated that ITP, as presently configured, cannot achieve production goals and safety requirements for processing high-level waste. ITP re-start activities were suspended in January 1998.

Immediately following suspension of ITP re-start activities, DOE-SR, Westinghouse Savannah River Company, and independent reviewers evaluated numerous technologies to identify viable alternatives to the ITP process. DOE-SR determined that three technologies should undergo further research and design to determine the most appropriate replacement for the ITP process.

Today's publication of the Notice of Intent in the Federal Register begins the 45-day scoping period, ending April 8, 1999. Two public workshops will be held to provide information to the public and interested stakeholders about SRS high-level waste processing and the proposal to replace ITP, including the alternatives being considered:

Thursday, March 11, 1999
Holiday Inn Coliseum
630 Assembly Street
Columbia, South Carolina
2 - 4 p.m. and 6 - 8 p.m.

Thursday, March 18, 1999
North Augusta Community Center
101 Brookside Drive
North Augusta, South Carolina
2 - 4 p.m. and 6 - 8 p.m.

Additionally, the workshops will provide the public an opportunity to comment on the scope of the SEIS, including the alternatives and issues that DOE should consider. Comments may be submitted orally or in writing to DOE at these workshops; sent by facsimile or voice mail to 1-800-881-7292; sent by electronic mail to; or mailed to Mr. Andrew Grainger, NEPA Compliance Officer, DOE-SR, Building 742, Room 183, Aiken, SC 29802 (ATTN: ITP SEIS). DOE will consider all comments received by the close of the scoping period and will consider comments received after that date to the extent practicable.




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