Federal officials have taken the first step in treating 2,000 cubic meters of transuranic sludges stored in Melton Valley storage tanks.
On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management announced it had awarded a contract to CH2M Hill Constructors Inc. for the Sludge Processing Facility Buildouts Project at the Transuranic Waste Processing Center. The center is in west Oak Ridge, south of Bethel Valley Road on Highway 95.
The transuranic waste comes from past operations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, said Mike Koentop, executive officer of the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management, or OREM. The sludge is stored safely and securely now, but there are regulatory milestones to meet, Koentop said.
“We do need to treat this,” he said of the radioactive waste.
The contract announced last week authorizes CH2M Hill to finalize the design of a mock test facility, with the purpose of “advancing the technical maturity level of the equipment and systems used to treat and process the sludge.”
The test facility will prove the technology for the final facility, Koentop said during a telephone interview Tuesday. The design of the mock test facility is scheduled for completion by the end of the year.
OREM said the remainder of the project scope includes construction and operation of the mock test facility, as well as the completion of the final design of the Sludge Processing Facility. These tasks are included as options in the contract, and DOE will authorize those options at the appropriate time, a press release said.
In September 2014, CH2M Hill was selected as the most qualified among the contractors that submitted qualification packages for the sludge buildout project. Since then, OREM has worked diligently to develop a request for proposal and a contract, the press release said.
“Processing the inventory of 2,000 cubic meters of transuranic sludges is one of our program’s top priorities, and this is the first step in achieving that goal,” said Sue Cange, OREM Manager. “We are pleased that contract negotiations were successful, and we look forward to working with CH2M Hill on this important project.”
The contract value for the first option is approximately $1.5 million.
The Transuranic Waste Processing Center is operated by Wastren Advantage Inc., and that contract was recently extended for treating transuranic debris, which can include items like vials, gloves, and lab equipment. The Sludge Processing Facility could be like an annex at the Transuranic Waste Processing Center.