SRNS finishes L Area disposition of fuel

  • Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Submitted photo The Savannah River Site’s H Canyon is the nation’s only hardened nuclear chemical separations plant still in operation in the United States.



The Savannah River Site’s management and operations contract recently completed the Sodium Reactor Experiment used nuclear fuel campaign at H Canyon by dissolving 147 bundles of used nuclear fuel from the Site’s L Area Disassembly Basin.


In a press release, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions explained that the project was an experimental nuclear power reactor and became the first nuclear reactor in the United States to produce electrical power for a commercial power grid.


The reactor functioned from 1957 to 1964.


The Sodium Reactor Experiment, or SRE, fuel slugs were prepared for disposition in the late 1970s and then shipped to SRS for storage in L Basin.


The fuel was dissolved with other high-aluminum fuel from L Area and the resulting solution will be transferred directly to the Defense Waste Processing Facility at SRS for disposition.


The Department of Energy evaluated the fuel stored in L Area and determined the SRE fuel was not suitable for long-term wet storage.


As a result, the Energy Department authorized the processing of the fuel.


George Zachmann, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions acting environmental management business manager, further explained that the fuel was made of a thorium-uranium alloy.


He added that the high uranium-233 content made the uranium not suitable for feed material at other nuclear energy power plants, which is why the disposition option was chosen.


“DOE made the decision to dissolve the SRE fuel and directly disposition the resulting solution as waste,” Zachmann said.


Savannah River Nuclear Solutions is a Fluor-led company whose members are Fluor Federal Services, Newport News Nuclear and Honeywell, responsible for the management and operations of the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site, including the Savannah River National Laboratory.


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