Idaho State Journal

Journal photo by Bill Schaefer
Mike Becker, of Pasco, Washington, polishes the internal tank in the workshop at Premier Technologies. The tank will be used to process liquid mix radioactive waste at the Department of Energy's Hanford, Wash. site.

Containing nuclear waste
Local company manufactures specialized tanks

By Anne Minard
Journal Staff Writer
Saturday, June 10, 2000

CHUBBUCK - Even while Idaho tries to rid itself of nuclear waste, local researchers are crossing borders to help other states do the same.
A local technology firm, Premier Technology Inc., recently built parts of a project to evaporate and thereby reduce the volume of liquid radioactive waste stored at the Hanford nuclear site in south central Washington.
Lyle Freeman, who arranged and developed the project, said six researchers from his firm spent about 10 weeks on the project.
They did duct work for an air monitoring system to go with a waste evaporator. They also built two stainless steel containers to house low-level radioactive waste at the site.
"Material selection was kind of a big deal," Freeman said. The "316L" grade stainless steel they settled on meets standards set by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and should resist corrosion by heavy chlorine content in the waste.
Each vessel holds 1,200 gallons each, is 6 feet in diameter and about 8 feet tall. Each also is equipped with a center divider.
Guy Schein, a Hanford spokesman, said the low level waste is stored in more than 100 underground tanks. The evaporator, which he likens to a tea kettle, has successfully treated more than a million gallons of waste at the site.
At the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, the DOE used a calciner to reduce the volume of high level liquid waste in its "tank farm." Calcining heated the waste and turned it into a less voluminous, more stable, granular powder.
DOE officials had trouble getting conditions right to calcine liquid wastes remaining in the tanks, which was higher in sodium than waste they have already treated.
In a run that ended June 1, INEEL tried to increase temperatures to treat the sodium-bearing waste.
The test results will be analyzed as part of a decision about whether to continue calcining wastes under new, tougher air emissions laws that could require upgrades. That decision is due out early next year.

Idaho, Washington differ on radioactive waste approach

POCATELLO - As next door neighbors, Idaho and Washington share more than a border.
They also claim similar radioactive waste at Department of Energy sites - and each has a slightly different plan to deal with it.
Each site has high level radioactive waste, low level waste, which is shorter-lived and considered less reactive, and mixed waste, which may contain a variety of radioactive and other contaminants.
Hanford is one of two national DOE sites that accepts outside waste (the other is in Nevada), which is a major difference between Washington's and Idaho's nuclear policies.
A legal agreement between Idaho and the DOE requires that all waste be shipped out of Idaho - or at least ready for shipment - by 2035.
Hanford, by contrast, is storing a lot of its own waste along with waste from other sites. "Part of our site is always going to be an industrial waste area, said Guy Schein, a spokesman for the DOE in Washington.
Like Idaho, Washington has been shipping transuranic waste to the WIPP storage site near Carlsbad, N.M. Both states eagerly await the construction of a high-level waste repository - now set for Yucca Mountain in Nevada -that may accept high-level waste along with waste from spent nuclear reactor fuel.
- Anne Minard

Idaho State Journal
Copyright 2000