Veolia Nuclear Solutions will begin showcasing its patented GeoMelt® vitrification process’ ability to treat radioactive contaminated sodium wastes under a new agreement with the Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA), the managing contractor of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Idaho National Laboratory (INL).
The agreement calls for Veolia Nuclear Solutions - Federal Services, to demonstrate the treatment capabilities on Fermi Drums. The demonstration is intended to show how Veolia Nuclear Solutions’ patented GeoMelt® In-Container Vitrification™ (ICV) system can safely treat metallic, non-bulk sodium contaminated waste, which is generated from the sodium coolant used in certain types of nuclear reactors. The innovative GeoMelt® process works by chemically converting the reactive metals to an inert oxide while also immobilizing radionuclides in a durable vitrified waste form. The sodium wastes will be treated in a batch process, with each batch generating a 10-ton monolith of obsidian-like waste for disposal.
Treatment of the wastes will occur at the new GeoMelt® ICV system installed at the Perma-Fix Northwest facility in Richland, Washington, a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act-licensed facility owned by Perma-Fix Environmental Services, Inc. The design and installation of the system took nine months to complete and was funded by the two corporations.
“We have a strategic, long-term plan to establish pathways for off-site treatment of difficult waste streams; using GeoMelt® to treat Fermi Drums is just one of them. We also intend to disposition a number of other inventories on the Environmental Liabilities Register, using this method,” said Bob Miklos, director of Production Facilities and Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facilities at INL's Materials and Fuels Complex.
“The INL agreement for treatment of Fermi Drums is the first in what we hope will be a series of treatment demonstrations leading to eventual operations to treat and stabilize DOE and commercial reactive metal-containing waste,” said Ryan Dodd, technology director at Veolia Nuclear Solutions - Federal Services.
The agreement marks the latest example of Veolia Nuclear Solutions working with the INL. The company has worked with BEA at the INL since 2016 on a series of engineering scale ICV melts that underscored the viability of treating elemental sodium to produce a stable, non-reactive form using the GeoMelt® process. Such demonstrations are important as the U.S. continues to develop reactor technologies to support national energy needs, as well as for the treatment of legacy waste. GeoMelt® provides a new option at this critical juncture.
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