Category Archives: TWPC

Recovery plan for WIPP: restart in early 2016

wippThe U.S. Department of Energy today released its recovery plan for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, saying it is committed to resuming operations in the first quarter of calendar year 2016. Operations have been suspended since a series of events, including an underground fire and a release of radioactive materials at the waste repository, in February.

According to the report, the anticipated recovery costs will be about $242 million, with a couple of capital projects that could — based on some preliminary estimates — double the level of funding needed.

Fear of detonation at Oak Ridge waste site

radioactive-001In May of this year, UCOR (URS-CH2M Oak Ridge), the Department of Energy’s cleanup manager, declared a “potential inadequacy” in the safety analysis for radioactive wastes stored in Melton Valley because of new information that indicated there was a threat of detonation for some drums awaiting processing. More recently, a memo from staff of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board said DOE’s Office of Environmental Management had approved an evaluation of the problem and some of the interim safety measures that were being implemented at the site.

Asked for more information on this hazard, Mike Koentop, executive officer of DOE’s environmental management organization in Oak Ridge, provided this summary of events: Continue reading

DOE: It’ll cost $12B to complete Oak Ridge cleanup

The government has invested extraordinary resources over the past 30 years to deal with environmental legacies of the nuclear weapons program in Oak Ridge, which began with the World War II Manhattan Project. Mountains of radioactive waste have been moved, and a lot of cleanup has been accomplished. But a lot remains to be done — and it won’t be cheap.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates it will cost about $12 billion to finish the Oak Ridge cleanup work by 2046, the completion date DOE negotiated with environmental regulators. Continue reading

Oak Ridge cleanup: the road to 2046

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Helen Hardin (center), senior policy adviser to U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, makes a point during a break-out session at the Department of Energy’s community workshop on environmental cleanup in Oak Ridge. Standing are Gerald Boyd of S.M. Stoller Corp. (also vice chair of ETEBA and former DOE manager) and Alan Stokes, the planning director for DOE’s Office of Environmental Management in Oak Ridge.

According to the current timetable, the U.S. Department of Energy is scheduled to complete its Oak Ridge cleanup goals around 2046. Achieving that, of course, will depend on the availability of funding, and that’s not always predictable. The target date for completion has been renegotiated with environmental regulators on previous occasions and pushed into the future. So it probably makes sense to regard the end date as tentative.

There is still a lot to be accomplished, and DOE’s Environmental Management team hosted a community workshop last week to talk about cleanup priorities, funding and possibly come up with some new partnerships for getting those tasks done. The workshop drew a diverse crowd, including city officials, members of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s oversight group, and plenty of cleanup contractors and would-be contractors. Continue reading

Prepping for TWPC contract


The Transuranic Waste Processing Center in Oak Ridge.

The Department of Energy has issued a draft Request for Proposals for a contract to manage and operate the Transuranic Waste Processing Center in Oak Ridge. The June 26 notice emphasizes that DOE is not yet seeking proposals, but rather comments on the draft document.

Those comments are due by 5 p.m. July 14. The comments are to be sent to Continue reading