The U.S. Energy Dept. announced on Dec. 28 a plan to treat thousands of cubic yards of radioactive waste at the Idaho National Laboratory site in Idaho Falls, beating a court-ordered deadline by four days. The practice of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel produced about 9 million gallons of high-level liquid waste at the site over a 40-year span. DOE halted reprocessing in 1992, converting liquid waste into 5,750 cu yd of a powdered material called calcine, which it must now dispose of outside the state. The agency says it intends to convert the powder into a ceramic-like solid through a process that involves putting the waste into a thin-wall container and crushing it under heat and extreme pressure. DOE says this approach will make the nuclear waste safer for permanent storage.
DOE Comes Up With New Plan To Process Radioactive Waste
December 30, 2009