Salt Waste Processing Facility should be ready before 2020, SRS manager says

May 9, 2019

Savannah River Site manager Michael Budney on Wednesday morning said the Salt Waste Processing Facility is on track to be operational by the end of this calendar year.

Budney’s comments – and that end-of-year terminus – is corroborated by U.S. Department of Energy fiscal year 2020 budget justification documents, which were rolled out alongside the president’s most recent budget blueprint.

The SWPF is designed to significantly bolster the SRS liquid waste mission. Once online, the SWPF will help process millions of gallons of nuclear waste; it’s been described as a workhorse.

To put it plainly, and to use Budney’s words, SWPF is built to abridge the SRS liquid-waste timeline.

“In FY2020, much progress will be made on the treatment of high-level radioactive waste in tanks across the complex – one of EM’s largest environmental challenges,” DOE’s budget documents read, referring to the DOE Office of Environmental Management, the SRS landlord.

The multibillion-dollar, 140,000-square-foot facility was previously expected to be ready by the end of last year. Construction was completed in 2016.

The project, led by Parsons, was set back one year because of a major parts-replacement campaign. Hundreds of valve controllers have been swapped out, costing millions of dollars, federal project director Pamela Marks said in September 2018.

“There’s no one who’s more disappointed than me that we had this valve issue,” Marks said at the time.

Issues with certain valve controllers were discovered during a testing phase at SWPF. That phase is designed to flag problems – even hiccups – before full-on radioactive use begins.

Savannah River Remediation, an AECOM-led team, is the current SRS liquid waste contractor.