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 – Saltstone Disposal Facility (SDF)

SRS SDF in Aiken, South Carolina
Aerial Photograph of the Savannah River Site (SRS) Saltstone Disposal Facility (SDF) in Aiken, South Carolina
Internal layout diagram of the Savannah River Site (SRS) Saltstone Disposal Facility (SDF) in Aiken, South Carolina -- showing two rectangular, six smaller round, and seven larger round concrete disposal structures.

Operator: U.S. Department of Energy
Docket Number: PROJ0734
Site Description: Two rectangular, six smaller round, and seven larger round concrete disposal structures
Waste Volume: approximately 1.34x108 Litres (3.54x107 gallons)

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 Savanah River Site (SRS) is a 802 square kilometer (km2) (310 square mile (mi2)) facility located in south-central SC, which began operation in 1951 producing nuclear materials for national defense, research, medical, and space programs. Waste produced at the site from spent nuclear fuel reprocessing for defense purposes has been commingled with non-reprocessing waste resulting from the production of targets for nuclear weapons and production of material for space missions. Significant quantities of radioactive waste are currently stored onsite in large underground waste storage tanks, which were placed in operation between 1954 and 1986. The waste stored in the tanks is a mixture of insoluble metal hyrdroxide solids, referred to as sludge, and soluble salt supernate. The supernate volume has been 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 onsite in the SDF. The Saltstone Disposal Facility (SDF) is located in the SRS Z-Area, which is approximately 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the nearest SRS site boundary on a local topographic high. In the future, after all the disposal structures are operationally full, the DOE will put one or more covers over the SDF.

Currently, the DOE constructed and put into operation disposal structures:

  • two rectangular: Saltstone Disposal Structure (SDS) 1 and SDS 4
  • six smaller round: SDS 2A, SDS 2B, SDS 3A, SDS 3B, SDS 5A, and SDS 5B
  • one larger round: SDS 6

Currently, the DOE plans to construct and put into operation the future disposal structures:

  • six larger round: SDS 7 – SDS 12

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

Document Date ADAMS Accession No.
NDAA Section 3116(a) Consultation Documents
DOE Draft Basis for Waste Determination 02/28/2005 ML051020072
NRC Technical Evaluation Report 12/28/2005 ML053010225
DOE Final Basis for Waste Determination 01/17/2006 ML102850319
DOE Waste Determination by Sec. of Energy 01/17/2006 ML17136A069
 NDAA Section 3116(b) Monitoring Documents
NRC Monitoring Plan 05/03/2007 ML070730363
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 01/31/2008 ML073461038
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 06/05/2008 ML081290367
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 09/24/2008 ML082530057
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 04/22/2009 ML091320439
NRC Technical Review Report 08/25/2009 ML092300670
NRC Technical Review Report 09/01/2009 ML092300572
NRC Technical Review Report 09/01/2009 ML092300610
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 09/30/2009 ML092170006
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 10/01/2009 ML092710477
NRC Technical Review Report 10/23/2009 ML092890633
DOE 2009 Performance Assessment 10/31/2009 ML101590008
NRC Technical Review Report 11/09/2009 ML093030220
NRC Technical Review Report 11/12/2009 ML093100197
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 06/07/2010 ML101320386
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 07/07/2010 ML101460044
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 11/19/2010 ML102180250
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 03/15/2011 ML110670458
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 08/09/2011 ML111890319
NRC Technical Evaluation Report, Rev. 1 04/30/2012 ML121170309
NRC Type-IV Letter of Concern 04/30/2012 ML120650576
DOE Response to NRC Type-IV Letter 07/12/2012 ML12198A263
DOE Additional Response to NRC Type-IV Letter 07/26/2012 ML12215A080
NRC Acknowledgement of DOE 07/12/2012 Letter 08/31/2012 ML12213A447
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 11/19/2012 ML12286A191
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 02/15/2013 ML13010A499
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 08/23/2013 ML13199A434
NRC Monitoring Plan, Rev. 1 09/01/2013 ML13100A113
NRC Technical Review Report 11/07/2013 ML13304B159
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 08/28/2014 ML14199A219
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 05/27/2015 ML15041A562
NRC Technical Review Report 06/04/2015 ML15098A031
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 09/28/2015 ML15236A299
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 07/15/2016 ML16147A197
NRC Technical Review Report 08/01/2016 ML16196A179
NRC Technical Review Report 12/23/2016 ML16277A060
NRC Technical Review Report 01/05/2017 ML16342C575
NRC Technical Review Report 03/23/2017 ML17018A137
NRC Technical Review Report 04/12/2017 ML17081A187
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 05/05/2017 ML17054C453
NRC Letter Supplementing the Monitoring Plan 06/05/2017 ML17097A351
NRC Technical Review Report 01/31/2018 ML18002A545
NRC Letter Supplementing the Monitoring Plan 03/01/2018 ML18033A071
NRC Technical Review Report 05/17/2018 ML18117A494
NRC Technical Review Report 05/22/2018 ML18095A122
NRC Letter Supplementing the Monitoring Plan 06/29/2018 ML18107A161
NRC Technical Review Report 06/29/2018 ML18158A172
NRC Letter Supplementing the Monitoring Plan 10/16/2018 ML18219B035
NRC/DOE Joint Plan to Resolve the NRC Type-IV Letter of Concern 10/23/2018 ML18235A068
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 11/01/2018 ML18219B859
NRC Technical Review Report 05/28/2019 ML19031B221
NRC Letter Supplementing the Monitoring Plan 08/05/2019 ML19150A295
NRC Onsite Observation Visit Report 11/27/2019 ML19289A525

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

NRC Conclusion from the current 2012 Technical Evaluation Report

The NRC concludes that it has reasonable assurance that waste disposal at the SRS SDF meets the 10 CFR 61 Performance Objectives for protection of individuals against intrusion (§61.42), protection of individuals during operations (§61.43), and site stability (§61.44).

However, based on the NRC evaluation of the DOE results and independent sensitivity analyses conducted with the DOE models, the NRC no longer has reasonable assurance that the DOE disposal activities at the SRS SDF meet the Performance Objective for protection of the general population from releases of radioactivity (§61.41).

Although the NRC cannot conclude that the Performance Objective in §61.41 is met, based on the DOE results and the NRC own independent analyses, the potential dose to an off-site member of the public from the DOE disposal actions is still expected to be relatively low.

NRC Notification Letters Type-IV Letter of Concern
NRC Open Issues None
NRC Monitoring Areas (MAs) and Monitoring Factors (MFs) in the current 2012 Monitoring Plan, as supplemented by later NRC letters All 11 MAs are Open, 5 MFs are Closed (MF 3.01, MF 3.02, MF 3.04, MF 5.05, & MF 6.02), and the other 37 MFs are Open

Current NRC Project Manager: Harry Felsher, 301-415-6559, Harry.Felsher@nrc.gov

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Monday, March 16, 2020