February 9, 2007
The Honorable A. J. Eggenberger
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
625 Indiana Avenue NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20004-2901
Dear Mr. Chairman:
This letter provides the enclosed report that you requested in your January 10, 2007, letter regarding geotechnical and structural issues associated with the design of the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF) at the Savannah River Site (SRS). This report addresses the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board issues identified in the letter and enclosed Staff Issue Report, and outlines planned actions for successful resolution. The report also identifies Department of Energy (DOE) actions to oversee the geotechnical and structural engineering design and demonstrates how the Department recognized these issues and is working with its SWPF engineering, procurement and construction contractor, Parsons, to address them.
We share your view that preliminary design must provide a sound technical basis for the final design. We will not proceed with Critical Decisions for this project until the geotechnical and structural issues have been adequately resolved to substantially reduce uncertainties in this area. To achieve this objective, Parsons has strengthened its geotechnical and structural engineering capabilities by augmenting its staff with nationally recognized technical experts in these areas. Additionally, the DOE Savannah River Operations Office (SR) has similarly augmented its staff in these areas by retaining its own set of experts. Further, the DOE Chief of Nuclear Safety had retained the services of a nationally recognized expert in soil-structure interactions and is providing the Office of Environmental Management (EM) access to this resource as a function of its nuclear safety technical support and oversight. EM is applying this resource to closely monitor and assist the SR integrated project team for the SWPF. Finally, DOE has directed Washington Savannah River Company to conduct geotechnical engineering analyses for the SWPF using existing SRS methodologies that have proven to be conservative for soil conditions and design of facilities on the site and that will be provided as Government Furnished Services/Items.
In order to document DOE’s actions in this regard, the enclosure briefly describes the general path forward for addressing the issues identified as well as the specific proposed activities that will be addressed as the path forward is further developed.
We appreciate the Board’s commitment to a timely review and we will make ourselves available for monthly meetings with you and your staff to ensure that project resolutions are technically sound and are being addressed in a timely manner.
If you have any further questions, please call me at (202) 586-7709 or Dr. Inés R. Triay, Chief Operating Officer, at (202) 586-0738.
James A. Rispoli
Assistant Secretary for
M. Whitaker, HS-1.1
J. Allison, SRS