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U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Site Office – Environmental Management U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear.

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Presentation on theme: "U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Site Office – Environmental Management U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear."— Presentation transcript:

1 U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Site Office – Environmental Management U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Site Office – Environmental Management Nevada Test Site Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Operations Stephen Mellington, Assistant Manager for Environmental Management June 7, 2006 National Governor’s Association

2 Page 2 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 Approximately 1,375 square miles of federally owned and controlled land – surrounded by approximately 4,500 square miles of federally owned and controlled land Located approximately 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada The Nevada Test Site (NTS)

3 Page 3 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 U.S. Department of Energy Site Comparisons

4 Page 4 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 Arid desert climate Average 4-6 inches annual precipitation Evaporation exceeds rainfall by 12 times Depth to groundwater for disposal areas Area 3 – 1,600 feet (488 meters) Area 5 – 770 feet (235 meters) Thick alluvial basins Negligible recharge Groundwater from past cooler/wetter climate No “fast” pathways Environmental Conditions No significant surface water No permanent streams or lakes Many closed basins

5 Page 5 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 Historic Activities at the NTS First NTS atmospheric nuclear test detonated on January 27, atmospheric and underground nuclear tests conducted between 1951 and 1992 Nuclear weapons development and testing generated radioactive waste

6 Page 6 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 Early Disposal Activities Low-level radioactive waste (LLW) first collected for disposal at an Area 5 site in 1953 LLW first disposed in Area 5 Sugar Bunker trench in 1961 LLW first disposed in Area 3 subsidence crater in 1968 Began accepting LLW generated by other U.S. Department of Energy sites in 1976 Formal LLW disposal project established in 1978

7 Page 7 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 Area 5 Radioactive Waste Management Site Developed around the original Sugar Bunker trench 732 acres available for disposal – 140 acres currently used Disposal cells are excavated pits and trenches Eight (8) active disposal cells (21 closed and two constructed/available)

8 Page 8 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 Diverse radioactive waste streams and package types handled –Asbestos –Contact-handled LLW monoliths (in excess of 90,000 pounds each) –High-concentration thorium –Remote-handled LLW monoliths –Roll-off intermodals –Thorium nitrate –Mixed LLW Area 5 Radioactive Waste Management Site (continued)

9 Page 9 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 Area 3 Radioactive Waste Management Site Encompasses 120 acres Five (5) disposal cells (comprised of 7 subsidence craters) Radioactive waste managed includes LLW and Mixed LLW (cell closed) Subsidence craters from historic underground nuclear testing are used as disposal cells

10 Page 10 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 Mixed LLW at the Nevada Test Site 1987: Mixed LLW disposal begins 1990: State of Nevada requires the U.S. Department of Energy to provide a Waste Analysis/Verification Plan –Disposal of off-site generated Mixed LLW is halted

11 Page 11 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 Mixed LLW at the Nevada Test Site (continued) 2000: DOE issues Waste Management Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement Record of Decision declaring the Nevada Test Site as a regional disposal site for LLW and Mixed LLW : DOE works with State to resolve technical issues affecting the acceptance of off-site Mixed LLW December 2005: State issues Nevada Test Site Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Part B Permit – lifting the off-site Mixed LLW disposal prohibition

12 Page 12 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 Graphic Number: /454/PICT0089.JPG Photo Date: 4/11/2006 Mixed LLW at the Nevada Test Site (continued) April 11, 2006: Received first off-site MLLW shipment since 1990

13 U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Site Office – Environmental Management U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Site Office – Environmental Management Disposal Practices

14 Page 14 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 NTS Requirements / Capabilities U.S. Department of Energy Order NTS Waste Acceptance Criteria (NTSWAC) Category 2 non-reactor nuclear facility –Documented safety analyses –Technical safety requirements All disposed waste containers are retrievable –Grid coordinate tracking system for performance modeling and retrievability

15 Page 15 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 Tailored Disposal Cells and Waste Forms Unique waste streams of LLW require specialized disposal cells –High-dose LLW –Non-standard waste packaging –Radon flux requirements –Classified materials Cells are designed and constructed prior to acceptance/receipt of waste on an as-needed basis Crane placement and heavy equipment requirements considered Approximately 200,000 cubic yards of soil moved each year to create custom disposal cells

16 Page 16 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 Area 5 Disposal Cells – Waste Container Configuration Boxes containing LLW are placed in a stair-stacked configuration within a engineered grid

17 Page 17 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 Area 5 Disposal Cells – Waste Container Configuration (continued) LLW drums are positioned in a single layer with boxes of LLW arranged as “book ends”

18 Page 18 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 Area 5 Disposal Cells – Waste Container Configuration (continued) Remote-Handled Monoliths – 10 Rem/hour dose rates and higher 97 high-dose LLW monoliths (~20 R/hr) were received with a cumulative dose of man-Rem for 900 man-hours Monoliths were “nested” in between LLW cargo containers arranged in an H-pattern

19 Page 19 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 Site Differences Area 3 Radioactive Waste Management Site located 15 miles northwest of Area 5 Area 3 historically used for larger, bulk radioactive waste packages Layer-cake geometry used to dispose radioactive waste in Area 3

20 Page 20 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 Area 3 Disposal Cells – Waste Container Configuration (continued) Cargo containers of LLW

21 Page 21 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 Area 3 Disposal Cells – Waste Container Configuration (continued) Bulk equipment such as nozzles, compressors, converters, centrifuges, etc.

22 Page 22 79FY06 – 06/07/ generators are currently approved to ship LLW to the NTS General Atomics NTS Approved LLW Generators

23 Page 23 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 Mixed LLW Generators Mound WVDP SRS BNL LLNL INL SNL Lexington Paducah Portsmouth Perma-Fix Oak Ridge(2) Current Potential

24 Page 24 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 NTS LLW Disposal History Volume (1,000 ft 3 ) 1,674 Fiscal Year 2,422 FY 2003 (total) – 3,239,726 ft 3 FY 2004 (total) – 3,743,572 ft 3 FY 2005 (total) – 2,091,771 ft 3 FY 2006 (total received as of 5/21/2006) – 790,933 ft 3 * Indicates average per year for that decade ,440 shipments 2,

25 Page 25 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 NSO Commitment NSO is committed to supporting accelerated cleanup by providing disposal services to all U.S. Department of Energy sites NSO is committed to reducing risk to NTS workers, the public, and the environment with timely, cost-effective disposal services NSO is committed to working cooperatively with regulators and keeping the public informed of its Environmental Management activities through the Community Advisory Board

26 U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Site Office – Environmental Management U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration Nevada Site Office – Environmental Management Groundwater

27 Page 27 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 Background Information 1951 to 1992: United States Government conducted 828 underground nuclear tests at the Nevada Test Site (NTS) at depths ranging from approximately 90 to 4,800 feet below the ground surface About one-third of these tests occurred near or below the water table, which resulted in some contamination of the area’s groundwater

28 Page 28 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 Addressing Groundwater Contamination U.S. Department of Energy began preliminary hydrologic research in the 1970s A more intensive groundwater studies program was launched in 1989 with the formation of the Groundwater Characterization Project at the Department of Energy Nevada Site Office

29 Page 29 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 Addressing Groundwater Contamination (continued) The Underground Test Area (UGTA) sub-project evaluates the historic testing impacts on groundwater resources and study the extent of contaminant migration The scope includes collection of multiple sources of field data in order to create a 3-D computer model –This model includes groundwater, flow and transport parameters The models will be used to help create a monitoring network to ensure that the public/workers are not exposed to groundwater exceeding Safe Drink Water Act standards

30 Page 30 79FY06 – 06/07/2006 UGTA Strategy Drill wells, analyze existing wells, and conduct geophysical studies to collect data Evaluated the NTS on a regional scale – separated areas hydrologically and geographically into five (5) manageable Corrective Action Units Develop phased approach – Phase I and Phase II each representing stages of data collection and analysis Identify contaminant movement and develop contaminant boundaries Implement recommendations provided by an independent peer review of the strategy


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