The US Department of Energy (DOE) said that Environmental Management (EM) Senior Advisor William White has approved a proposal to save decades of work and billions of dollars in used nuclear fuel disposition at the Savannah River Site (SRS). The Accelerated Basin De-inventory (ABD) mission will allow SRS to process all remaining used fuel in the L Basin storage area through H Canyon without recovery of highly enriched uranium, and immobilise the resulting dissolved material to be disposed in the future. It is expected to save more than 20 years of work and related costs, including securing and managing the stored used fuel. H Canyon is the only large-scale, remotely operated chemical separation plant operating in the US.
The proposal comes after years of expert study and analysis. Supporters say it will significantly reduce DOE cost, risk and long-term liability associated with stored spent nuclear fuel. The ABD method will convert the dissolved nuclear material to forms that are proliferation resistant and can be safely stored for long periods with minimal maintenance. It accelerates work to remove used fuel from L Basin while maintaining safety and security, will free up space in L Basin for other uses, and save taxpayers approximately US$4bn.
White launched the regulatory timetable for the proposal by signing an amended record of decision and a supplemental analysis to a 2000 record of decision for management of about 29.2 metric tonnes of used nuclear fuel and related materials.
In March, the DOE Office of Environmental Management released its Strategic Vision outlining its clean-up goals for 2022-2032.
The Savannah River site: Source DOE