Nevada announces settlement with DOE over non-compliant waste from Y-12

The sign at the main entrance to the Y-12 National Security Complex is pictured above on Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017. (File photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

On Thursday, Nevada announced details of the settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy over low-level radioactive waste that was incorrectly identified and shipped from Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge to DOE’s Nevada National Security Site northwest of Las Vegas between 2013 and 2018.

Oak Ridge Today first reported about the settlement agreement on Wednesday. The Nevada announcement on Thursday provided additional information.

Here is Nevada’s announcement:

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NNSA awards, then rescinds contract to manage, operate Nevada National Security Site

The National Nuclear Security Administration awarded but then rescinded a contract to manage and operate the Nevada National Security Site, where some waste from Oak Ridge is shipped.

The NNSA, a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy, awarded the contract to manage and operate the Nevada National Security Site, or NNSS, to Nevada Site Science Support and Technologies Corporation, or NVS3T, on August 26, a statement said. The winning proposal identified NVS3T as a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin.

In making the award, NNSA evaluated past performance and other factors based upon the proposal as submitted, the statement said. The award was valued at $5 billion over 10 years if all options were exercised.

But after the award was made, DOE and NNSA learned that Leidos Innovations Corporation had acquired NVS3T from Lockheed Martin. [Read more…]

Nevada, feds agree to discuss landfill concerns, including ORNL radioactive waste

ORNL CEUSP Waste Shipping

Workers train to remove a type of shipping cask that would be used to transport 403 canisters of uranium-tainted waste from Oak Ridge National Laboratory to Nevada National Security Site northwest of Las Vegas. (Photos courtesy U.S. Department of Energy/Office of Environmental Management)


A new group of state and federal workers that was announced Tuesday could discuss contentious waste-related issues that include concerns over shipping low-level radioactive waste from a World War II-era building in Oak Ridge to a federal landfill in Nevada.

The new group, which will include senior-level state and federal employees, was announced in a six-page agreement, a memorandum of understanding signed last week by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval.

The talks started more than a year ago, after Sandoval sent a letter to Moniz expressing concerns over the proposed disposal of the radioactive waste at the Nevada National Security Site, a former nuclear weapons proving ground about 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

CEUSP Canister

At left is an actual 24-inch steel canister. At right is a representation of the canister interior.

The waste contains radioisotopes of uranium from the Consolidated Edison Uranium Solidification Project. It originated from a 1960s research and development test of thorium and uranium reactor fuel in New York. It is stored at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Building 3019—the oldest continuously operating nuclear facility in the Department of Energy complex—in 403 ceramic-like uranium oxide monoliths. Each of the monoliths is bonded to the inside of a steel canister about 3.5 inches in diameter and about two feet long. [Read more…]

Five mercury cleanup projects wrapped up in February

Mercury-contaminated Tank Cleanup

Workers load a mercury-contaminated tank onto inspection saddles. (Image courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy/UCOR)

Five mercury projects being performed under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act were completed in February, with URS-CH2M Oak Ridge LLC, or UCOR, issuing the final reports.

The projects ranged from planning new facilities and planning for cost-effective disposition of mercury-contaminated media, to removing old, abandoned tanks containing mercury. All are part of getting ready for an upcoming major focus on mercury cleanup at the Y-12 National Security Complex.

In the area of Y-12 known as the West End Mercury Area, or WEMA, multiple facilities produced a lithium isotope fundamental to the development of the hydrogen weapon. Mercury was used in that process. In those facilities, various amounts of mercury are present in the process pipes and equipment, drains and sumps, soil surrounding the facilities, storm sewers, and stream sediments.

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