Located in the scenic hills of Western New York, 35 miles south of Buffalo, the 68 hectare West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP) is a unique and challenging environmental cleanup project that currently manages High Level, Transuranic, and Greater than Class C wastes. Before the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) assumed the responsibility of cleaning up the site, the site was the location of the only commercial spent nuclear fuel (SNF) reprocessing facility to operate in the United States. Operated by Nuclear Fuels Services from 1966–72, the site was owned by the State of New York and licensed by the Atomic Energy Commission. During operations, the plant reprocessed approximately 640 metric tons of commercial and defense nuclear fuel. When commercial operations were discontinued and the facilities were returned to New York State, there were nearly 2,271,247 liters (nearly 600,000 gallons) of liquid high-level radioactive waste (HLW) in an underground storage tank, there were approximately 750 unprocessed fuel assemblies, and there was a highly contaminated Main Plant Process Building (MPPB). The West Valley Demonstration Project Act of 1980 (the Act) authorized DOE to conduct a cleanup of the site, in cooperation with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the State agency responsible for managing the property. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) license was placed in abeyance and DOE arrived on site in 1981. Since that time, several significant cleanup milestones have been completed, including vitrification (solidification in a glass matrix) of the high level liquid waste, containing approximately 15 million curies, into 275 high level waste canisters and the disposition of more than 19,000 subsequent drums of low-level radioactive waste (LLW); the shipment of the remaining 125 SNF assemblies that were in storage on site; and the shipment of more than 304,800 cubic meters (1,000,000 cubic feet) of LLW for offsite disposal. More recent accomplishments at West Valley have included deactivation and decontamination of the still-very-contaminated MPPB, management of the underground high level waste tanks (4) and their associated vaults (3), and processing and packaging of both legacy waste and waste generated as a result of decommissioning activities. This paper focuses on the high level, greater than Class C, and Transuranic waste challenges at West Valley and the options to address those challenges.
- Nuclear Engineering Division and Environmental Engineering Division
West Valley Demonstration Project High Level, Transuranic, and Greater Than Class C Wastes
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Blankenhorn, JA. "West Valley Demonstration Project High Level, Transuranic, and Greater Than Class C Wastes." Proceedings of the ASME 2011 14th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management. ASME 2011 14th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management, Parts A and B. Reims, France. September 25–29, 2011. pp. 707-714. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/ICEM2011-59048
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