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Applied Geology and Geochemistry

Research Areas

Waste Form and Contaminant Sequestration Agent Development and Testing

Over the next several decades, the DOE Office of Environmental Management will retrieve, treat, immobilize, and dispose of approximately 55 million gallons of highly radioactive mixed waste currently stored in 177 underground storage tanks at the Hanford Site. Key to this effort is the construction and operation of the WTP. The WTP is currently slated to be a $12.3 billion capital project that will vitrify Hanford’s HLW (approximately 32,000 MT of glass) and LAW (approximately 528,000 MT of glass). However, under the current design, the WTP LAW vitrification facility only has the capacity to treat approximately 35 percent of the projected LAW stream within the plant lifetime. Therefore, either a second LAW vitrification facility or a supplemental treatment technology will be needed to treat the remaining LAW. Resolving capacity limitations to treat Hanford’s LAW stream will require a three-pronged approach that includes 1) maximizing the capacity of the LAW vitrification facility, 2) qualifying a non-glass LAW immobilization technology, and 3) updating the current performance assessment to incorporate risk-based predictions. The Geosciences Group is heavily engaged in qualifying a non-glass waste form for use at Hanford (contaminant waste form development and testing), as well as development and testing of sequestering agents or “getters” that can be used to enhance the ability of a particular waste form to better effectively sequester specific contaminants of concern. An example of a sequestering agent being developed specifically to enhance uptake and stabilization of Tc is Technetium Uptake by Iron-Based Materials.


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