May 25, 2004
The Honorable John T. Conway
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
625 Indiana Avenue, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20004-2901
Dear Mr. Chairman:
The purpose of this letter is to provide the response to your letter of November 7, 2003, regarding the retrieval, storage, and disposal of the waste drums containing Pu-238. The initial response on February 3, 2004, provided historical data, challenges faced, and activities being done to provide a plan to safely retrieve and disposition the Pu-238 drums.
The preferred processing path is to transfer the material to the Savannah River Site (SRS) for processing due to their extensive experience with this type of material. The SRS path includes a variety of challenges and the Department is also preparing an alternate on-site processing path as described in the attachment. The onsite processing path and one of the SRS paths will result in disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). An option that SRS may implement, if the material is shipped to SRS, is to dissolve the material through the canyons into storage tanks to await final disposition. The enclosure documents the conclusion that exiting procedures can be modified to safely retrieve this material. A general description of the processing paths and major remaining actions, along with estimated timeframes, is provided. The onsite processing path will be implemented only if the SRS path is eliminated. An update will be provided to the Board when the disposal plans and interim storage plans are finalized.
I have asked the Richland Operations Office to keep your staff apprised of the progress in the disposition these drums. Should you or your staff have any questions concerning these issues, please contact me at (202) 586-0738 or Keith Klein, Manager Richland Operations Office, at (509) 376-7395.
Dr. Inés Triay
Deputy Chief Operating Officer
cc: M. Whitaker, DR/DOE
K. Klein, RL