28 October 2009

USDOE finally releases Draft Tank Closure & Waste Management EIS

Following a faux pas where USDOE accidentally mailed out copies of the Tank Closure & Waste Management Environmental Impact Statement on Friday, USDOE announced its official release on Monday, October 26th. The draft EIS will provide the basis of recommendations ("preferred alternatives" for the Department of Energy's decisions regarding the following topics:
  • entombing Hanford's Fast Flux Test Facility (a shutdown 400-megawatt research reactor)
  • Deferring the importation of off-site waste to Hanford at least until the Waste Treatment Plant is operational - consistent with the Settlement Agreement with WA State that is currently undergoing public comment
  • Retreiving waste from single shell tanks (SST) consistent with the TPA
  • Disposing of Hanford's Low Level Waste & Mixed Low Level Waste onsite

The Vitrification plants are not planned to be large enough to treat all the low-activity waste in a reasonable time, yet no recommendation for treating the rest of the low-activity waste has been brought up. The study also recommends removing 99 percent of the waste from tanks, finding that it would best protect ground water, and have the empty tanks filled with grout to immobilize remaining radiological and other hazards.

Further discussion and alterations to the draft concerning treatment of the remaining tank waste will continue until March 19th, when the public comment period closes. We expect USDOE to hold public hearings on the Draft EIS in early 2010.

The entire draft Tank Closure & Waste Management EIS can be read here.

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