United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Information Notice No. 88-08: Chemical Reactions with Radioactive Waste Solidification Agents

                                  UNITED STATES
                          NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
                             WASHINGTON, D.C.  20555

                                 March 14, 1988

                                   WASTE SOLIDIFICATION AGENTS


All NRC licensees generating or processing low level radioactive waste.


This information notice is being provided to alert addressees to potential 
problems resulting from unexpected adverse chemical reaction between con-
taminants in radioactive wastes and certain solidification agents.  It is 
expected that recipients will review the information for applicability to 
their facilities and consider actions, as appropriate, to avoid similar 
problems.  However, suggestions contained in this information notice do not 
constitute NRC requirements; therefore, no specific action or written response 
is required.  


On May 13 and 20, 1987, radioactive waste personnel at Tennessee Valley 
Authority's (TVA's or licensee's) Sequoyah Nuclear Plant began processing 
their laundry waste water and hot shower drain tank waste water through the 
condensate demineralizer waste evaporator before sampling for discharge.  This 
procedure was new and being performed to reduce the radioactivity in the 
liquid waste effluents and to meet the criterion of "as low as is reasonably 
achievable" outlined in 10 CFR Part 50 Appendix I, which addresses the control 
of radioactive materials in gaseous and liquid effluents.  Previously, only 
batches found to be in excess of discharge limits were processed before being 

The condensate demineralizer evaporator bottoms were placed in a radioactive 
waste liner and were then solidified on site by Chem-Nuclear Systems, Inc. 
(CNSI) following a process control program (PCP) formulated by CNSI.  As the 
waste was being mixed with CNSI's proprietary defoaming agent (N-24) and so-
lidification agent (P-20), the mixture experienced an exothermic reaction in 
which the temperature of the waste exceeded 240�F.  This temperature was above 
the boiling point of the mixture and it began to expand, overflowing the liner 
through the fill head and inspection plate and over the side of the container.
This overflow then hardened and had to be chipped away.  The maximum dose rate 
of the overflow was 3 rem per hour.  

The licensee and Chem-Nuclear conducted studies to determine the cause of the 
problem.  Through followup testing, CNSI identified that a detergent in the 

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waste reacted violently with the CNSI solidification agent, undergoing a 
reaction as the temperature of the mixture reached 218�F.  No other material 
within the waste stream, including other detergents, was found to have any 
reaction with the solidification agent.  The specific detergent, an industrial 
liquid laundry detergent sold as DECON 4324-NP under the brand name Turco, had 
been used in laundering the licensee's protective clothing.  The change in the 
method of handling the liquid waste from the laundry increased the volume and 
concentration of the detergent in the evaporator bottoms.  The licensee has 
stopped using the detergent and has experienced no similar problems.  TVA 
plans additional studies to identify which chemicals in the detergent cause 
this reaction.  

Licensees are reminded of the importance that waste be processed strictly in 
accordance with the approved PCP developed for the specific waste stream 
substances to be solidified.  Some mixtures of waste contaminants and 
solidification agents may react adversely with one another.  These reactions 
may not be noticeable during the specimen tests performed before the actual 
solidification occurs; therefore, it is important to be alert to variances in 
solidification parameters specified by PCPs, such as increasing temperature of 
the mixture and reduced amount of solidification agent required to fill the 
liner or other container.  

Additional considerations appropriate for solidifying evaporator bottoms and 
ion-exchange resins are discussed in NUREG/CR-4601, "Technical Considerations 
Affecting Preparation of Ion-Exchange Resins for Disposal," issued in May 1986 
by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Office of Nuclear Material Safety and 

No specific action or written response is required by this information notice.
If you have any questions about this matter, please contact the technical 
contact listed below or the Regional Administrator of the appropriate regional 

                              Charles E. Rossi, Director
                              Division of Operational Events Assessment
                              Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation

Technical Contacts:  Roy Weddington, RII
                     (404) 331-2604

                     Jaime Guillen, NRR
                     (301) 492-1153

Attachment:  List of Recently Issued NRC Information Notices
.                                                            Attachment
                                                            IN 88-08 
                                                            March 14, 1988 
                                                            Page 1 of 1

                             LIST OF RECENTLY ISSUED
                            NRC INFORMATION NOTICES 
Information                                  Date of 
Notice No._____Subject_______________________Issuance_______Issued to________

88-07          Inadvertent Transfer of       3/7/88         All NRC broad 
               Licensed Material to                         licensees and 
               Uncontrolled Locations                       licensees 
                                                            authorized to 
                                                            possess byproduct 
                                                            material as sealed
                                                            sources in 
                                                            teletherapy units 
                                                            or "self-

88-06          Foreign Objects in Steam      2/29/88        All holders of OLs
               Generators                                   or CPs for PWRs. 

88-05          Fire in Annunciator Control   2/11/88        All holders of OLs
               Cabinets                                     or CPs for nuclear
                                                            power reactors. 

88-04          Inadequate Qualification      2/5/88         All holders of OLs
               and Documentation of Fire                    or CPs for nuclear
               Barrier Penetration Seals                    power reactors. 

88-03          Cracks in Shroud Support      2/2/88         All holders of OLs
               Access Hole Cover Welds                      or CPs for BWRs. 

88-02          Lost or Stolen Gauges         2/2/88         All NRC licensees 
                                                            authorized to 
                                                            possess gauges 
                                                            under a specific 
                                                            or general 

88-01          Safety Injection Pipe         1/27/88        All holders of OLs
               Failure                                      or CPs for nuclear
                                                            power reactors. 

86-81,         Broken External Closure       1/11/88        All holders of OLs
Supp. 1        Springs on Atwood & Morrill                  or CPs for nuclear
               Main Steam Isolation Valves                  power reactors. 

87-67          Lessons Learned from          12/31/87       All holders of OLs
               Regional Inspections of                      or CPs for nuclear
               Licensee Actions in Response                 power reactors. 
               to IE Bulletin 80-11 
OL = Operating License
CP = Construction Permit 
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, May 22, 2015