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
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