SRS liquid waste leak stopped; no harm caused, DOE officials say

July 30, 2018

A leak in a Savannah River Site liquid waste tank has been tended to and stopped, according to a U.S. Department of Energy update given by Michael Budney, the Site manager.

The leak did not harm SRS employees, posed no immediate risk to the environment and caused no damage, two DOE spokespeople said Thursday.

In early June, during waste removal operations and inspections, a leak was discovered in Tank 15 at SRS’s H-Tank Farm.

The then-active leak – not a “real big leak” or a “huge, fast leak,” Budney said – stemmed from one of six freshly identified suspect spots on Tank 15, according to a Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board report dated June 15.

The DNFSB report described Tank 15 as “old-style” and the leak as a “small stream of liquid.”

The DNFSB is an independent organization charged with providing nuclear-related information and recommendations to the president and the energy secretary.

The leaked waste was caught in the tank’s annulus, a pan around the waste tank designed to contain such leaks or seepage.

To stop the leak, Savannah River Remediation, the SRS liquid waste contractor, proposed pumping 220,000 gallons of waste into another tank, according to the DNFSB. Doing so would drop Tank 15 liquid levels below the leak site.

That plan was followed through on, with the 220,000 gallons ultimately getting transferred to Tank 13.

A July 6 DNFSB report provided an update on the stopped leak and SRR’s efforts.

“In the mean time, we’ve had great monitoring and a camera down there to see what was going on,” Budney said Monday.

The Site manager said the Site’s liquid waste tanks “aren’t getting any better,” a point he said reinforces the need for liquid waste mission funding.

There are dozens of aging underground waste tanks at SRS. SRR is tasked with processing the waste, one way or another, and closing the tanks.

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