Amended Record of Decision: Savannah River Site Salt Processing Alternatives
The Department of Energy (DOE), pursuant to 10 CFR 1021.315, is amending its Record of Decision: Savannah River Site Salt Processing Alternatives issued on October 17, 2001 (66 FR 52752). At that time the Department decided to implement the Caustic Side Solvent Extraction (CSSX) technology, one of the alternative technologies evaluated in DOE/EIS-0082-S2 (Savannah River Site Salt Processing Alternatives Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SPA SEIS), June 2001) for separation of the high-activity fraction from the low-activity fraction of Savannah River Site (SRS) salt wastes. DOE has initiated design of the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF), which will house the CSSX technology. Now, using technologies described in the SPA SEIS, DOE has decided to change the processing and disposition pathway for a fraction of the low activity salt waste currently stored in the F- and H-Area tank farms. This action is called Interim Salt Processing. When the SWPF becomes operational, the remaining (and by far the majority) salt waste will be processed through the SWPF using the CSSX technology as described in the SPA SEIS; this action is called High Capacity Salt Processing. DOE will proceed with this interim approach because doing so will enable DOE to continue uninterrupted use of the Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF) to vitrify higher activity sludge waste for disposal at a geologic repository for spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste. It will also allow DOE to use SWPF at higher capacity as soon as it comes on line. This will allow DOE to complete cleanup and closure of the tanks years earlier than would otherwise be the case. That, in turn, will reduce the time during which the tanksincluding some that do not have full secondary containment and have a known history of leak sitescontinue to store liquid radioactive waste. Finally, Interim Salt Processing will make more tank space available for routine operations, thereby reducing the number of transfers among tanks and increasing the safety of operations. Therefore, Interim Salt Processing will accelerate the reduction of potential risk to the environment, the public, and workers. DOE has prepared a Supplement Analysis (SA), Salt Processing Alternatives at the Savannah River Site (DOE/EIS-0082-S2-SA-01), in accordance with DOE National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations (10 CFR 1021.314) to determine whether implementation of Interim Salt Processing is a substantial change to the selected CSSX processing of salt waste or whether there are significant new circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns such that a supplement to the SPA SEIS or a new EIS would be needed. Based on the SA, DOE has determined that a supplement to the SPA SEIS or a new EIS is not needed.
Section 3116 Determination for Salt Waste Disposal at the Savannah River Site
The Department of Energy (DOE) announces the availability of a section 3116 determination for the disposal of separated, solidified, low-activity salt waste at the Savannah River Site (SRS) near Aiken, South Carolina. Section 3116 of the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 authorizes the Secretary of Energy, in consultation with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to determine that certain waste from reprocessing is not high-level waste (HLW) if it meets the statutory criteria set forth in Section 3116. The Section 3116 determination sets forth the basis on which the Secretary has determined that the salt waste is not high-level waste because it (1) does not require permanent isolation in a deep geologic repository, (2) has had highly radioactive radionuclides removed to the maximum extent practical, and (3) meets the NRC performance objectives for the disposal of low level waste. In a separate notice published in today's Federal Register, DOE is also making available the amended Record of Decision for Savannah River Site Salt Processing Alternatives Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, originally issued on October 17, 2001 (66 FR 52752).