United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

NDAA Section 3116 Waste Incidental to Reprocessing (WIR) at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina – Tank Farms (TFs)

SRS F-Tank Farm (FTF) in Aiken, South Carolina

Aerial photograph of SRS F-Tank Farm (FTF) in Aiken, South Carolina

Operator: U.S. Department of Energy
Docket Number: PROJ0734
Site Description: 22 underground carbon steel tanks approximately 24.4 – 30.5 meters (80 – 100 feet) in diameter and approximately 7 meters (23 feet) high
Waste Volume: approximately 2.84x106 – 4.92x106 Litres (750,000 – 1,300,000 gallons) capacity per tank

SRS H-Tank Farm (FTF) in Aiken, South Carolina

Aerial photograph of SRS H-Tank Farm (FTF) in Aiken, South Carolina

Operator: U.S. Department of Energy
Docket Number: PROJ0734
Site Description:29 carbon steel tanks
Waste Volume: TBD

Under Section 3116(b) of the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 (NDAA), the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), in coordination with the NDAA-Covered State monitors the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) disposal actions to assess compliance with the NRC regulations in Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) Part 61, "Licensing Requirements for Land Disposal of Radioactive Waste," Subpart C, "Performance Objectives." The NDAA-Covered States are currently Idaho (ID) and South Carolina (SC).

The Savannah River Site (SRS) is a 802 square kilometer (km2) (310 square mile (mi2)) facility located in south-central SC that was developed in the 1950's as part of the United States’ growing weapons program. Many activities took place at SRS, including the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel in reinforced concrete buildings (i.e., canyons). The SRS TFs consists of the F-Tank Farm (FTF) and the H-Tank Farm (HTF). Liquid waste managed from the reprocessing process involves 51 underground storage tanks contained in either the FTF or the HTF.

The FTF is a 0.089 km2 (22 acre) site that is in the F-Area of the SRS General Separations Area. The FTF is located approximately 10 km (6.2 mi) from the nearest SRS site boundary. The FTF contains 22 of the 51 tanks in the SRS TFs. The HTF is a 0.182 km2 (45 acre) site that is in the H-Area of the SRS General Separations Area. The HTF is located near the center of the SRS site. The HTF contains 29 of the 51 tanks in the SRS TFs.

The FTF contains 22 below grade, carbon steel and reinforced concrete tanks that store or previously stored liquid radioactive waste generated from the chemical separations facility in the F-Canyon. The waste tanks consist of three basic types. Type-I tanks are the original tanks from the 1950's (i.e., 23 meters (m) (75 feet (ft.)) in diameter, 7.5 m (24.5 ft.) in height, capacity of 2,850 cubic meters (m3) (750,000 gallons)). Type-IV tanks are from the late 1950's (i.e., 26 m (85 ft.) in diameter, 11 m (34.5 ft.) in height, capacity of 4,940 m3 (1,300,000 gallons)). Type-III tanks are from 1969 to 1980 (i.e., 26 m (85 ft.) in diameter, 11 m (34.5 ft.) in height, capacity of 4,940 m3 (1,300,000 gallons).

The HTF contains 29 below-grade, carbon steel and reinforced concrete tanks that store or previously stored liquid radioactive waste generated primarily from the chemical separations facility in the H-Canyon. The waste tanks consist of four basic types (i.e., Type-II and same three types as in the FTF). Type-I tanks are the original tanks from the 1950's. Type-II tanks are from 1955-1956 (i.e., 26 m (85 ft.) in diameter, 8.3 m (27 ft.) in height, capacity of 3,914 m3 (1,030,000 gallons). Type-III tanks are from 1966-1981. Type-IV tanks are from 1958-1962.

HTF has many similarities to the FTF. Tank types, sizes, and supporting infrastructure are largely the same. However, HTF contains four Type-II tanks while there are no Type-II tanks in FTF. In addition, HTF includes tanks that are either fully- or partially-submerged in the groundwater. While bottoms of several FTF tanks (i.e., Type-IV) are in the zone of water table fluctuation, no tanks have historically been fully submerged.

In the 1990's, prior to implementation of the NDAA, the DOE closed two FTF tanks with approval of South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC). The DOE is engaged in an expansive campaign to clean, stabilize, and close the other underground waste storage tanks under the NDAA. The DOE cleanup activities also include cleaning out the supporting ancillary structures (i.e., evaporators, pump pits, pump tanks, diversion boxes, transfer valve boxes, piping) used to process and transfer generated waste. The waste tanks and ancillary structures are several decades old. The Type-I, Type-II, and Type-IV tanks without a full secondary containment are out of compliance and are targeted closure. The DOE plans to clean, grout, and close the waste tanks and ancillary structures in place to reduce the risks to the workers, the public, and the environment. The DOE intends to close geographic sections of the SRS TFs in stages. Following closure of a geographic section, the area will be left in an interim closure state in preparation for final closure of an entire tank farm (i.e., FTF and HTF).

The tank waste is a mixture of relatively insoluble metal hydroxide solids, referred to as sludge, and soluble salt supernate. In the tank closing process, the supernate volume is reduced by evaporation, which also concentrates the soluble salts to their solubility limits. The resultant solution crystallizes as salts and the resulting solid is referred to as saltcake. The saltcake and supernate combined are referred to as salt waste. The DOE removes the salt waste, treats it to remove Highly Radioactive Radionuclides to the maximum extent practical, and disposes of the low activity fraction in the SRS SDF.

Eight tanks have been closed: Tanks 17 and 20 in the 1990’s before the NRC monitoring activities under NDAA Section 3116(b) began; Tanks 18 and 19 in 2012; Tanks 5 and 6 in 2013; Tank 16 in 2015; and Tank 12 in 2016. In the future, after FTF is closed, the DOE will cover it; and, after HTF is closed, the DOE will cover it.

Major NDAA WIR Consultation & Monitoring Documents For The SRS TFs:

Document Date ADAMS Accession No.
NDAA Section 3116(a) Consultation Documents for FTF
DOE FTF Performance Assessment 03/31/2010 ML102850339
DOE FTF Draft Basis for Waste Determination 09/30/2010 ML102790078
NRC FTF Technical Evaluation Report 10/27/2011 ML112371715
DOE FTF Final Basis for Waste Determination 03/27/2012 ML121140051
DOE FTF Waste Determination by Sec. of Energy 03/27/2012 ML121140043
NDAA Section 3116(a) Consultation Documents for HTF
DOE HTF Performance Assessment 11/30/2012 ML14199A631
DOE HTF Draft Basis for Waste Determination 02/06/2013 Ml13045A504
NRC HTF Technical Evaluation Report 06/17/2014 ML14094A514
DOE HTF Final Basis for Waste Determination 12/19/2014 ML15051A353
DOE HTF Waste Determination by Sec. of Energy 12/19/2014 ML15051A352
NDAA Section 3116(b) Monitoring Documents for TFs
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 09/05/2012 ML12191A210
NRC Technical Review Report 03/21/2013 ML13080A401
NRC Technical Review Report 10/03/2013 ML13269A365
NRC Technical Review Report 04/10/2013 ML13100A230
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 12/05/2012 ML12299A190
NRC FTF Monitoring Plan 01/23/2013 ML12212A192
NRC Technical Review Report 03/21/2013 ML13080A401
NRC Technical Review Report 04/10/2013 ML13100A230
NRC Technical Review Report 05/31/2013 ML12272A082
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 07/02/2013 ML13113A322
NRC Technical Review Report 09/30/2013 ML13085A291
NRC Technical Review Report 10/04/2013 ML13273A299
NRC Technical Review Report 10/30/2013 ML13269A365
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 11/12/2013 ML13267A452
NRC Technical Review Report 04/21/2014 ML13277A063
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 05/21/2014 ML14106A573
NRC Technical Review Report 12/15/2014 ML14342A784
NRC Technical Review Report 03/31/2015 ML12272A124
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 10/05/2015 ML15239A628
NRC TFs Monitoring Plan 10/06/2015 ML15238A761
NRC Technical Review Report 11/06/2015 ML15301A830
NRC Technical Review Report 11/10/2015 ML15301A710
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 05/17/2016 ML16111B174
NRC Technical Review Report 09/06/2016 ML16231A444
NRC Technical Review Report 12/23/2016 ML16277A060
NRC Technical Review Report 01/08/2018 ML17277B235
NRC Letter Supplementing Monitoring Plan 03/01/2018 ML18033A071
NRC Technical Review Report 04/20/2018 ML18051B154
NRC Technical Review Report 04/21/2018 ML18242A259
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 02/06/2019 ML18311A184
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 08/13/2019 ML19143A084

Current Status Of NDAA Section 3116(b) Monitoring For The SRS TFs:

NRC Conclusions from both the current 2011 FTF and 2014 HTF Technical Evaluation Reports The NRC did not make a conclusion on the ability of the DOE to meet the requirements of the Performance Objectives in 10 CFR Part 61, Subpart C due to uncertainty in the final inventories for the remaining tanks.
NRC Notification Letters None

NRC Open Issues None
NRC Monitoring Areas (MAs) and Monitoring Factors (MFs) in the current 2015 Monitoring Plan, as supplemented by later NRC letters All 8 MAs are Open and all 26 MFs are Open

NRC Project Manager: R. Lee Gladney, 301-415-1022, Robert.Gladney@nrc.gov

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Monday, March 16, 2020