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Additional International Activities


The "Agreement between the United States Department of Energy and the French Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique in the field of Radioactive Waste Management" has received C-175 approval from the U.S. State Department, and is pending approval from the French government. This agreement will allow the DOE Tanks Focus Area (TFA) to participate in cooperative activities with the French Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique (CEA). TFA and CEA have initiated discussions on collaboration in the area of Cold Crucible Melter technology. A DOE delegation traveled to the CEA Marcoule facility in Avignon, France on February 28 - March 1, 2001 to hold discussions about future cooperation. A draft Scope of Work has been written which involves testing waste streams from DOE sites to determine whether the French Cold Crucible Melter technology would be applicable to DOE needs.

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The International Radioecology Laboratory (IRL) was established on July 22, 1998 by an agreement between former Vice President Al Gore and President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine. The purpose of the IRL, which was constructed with and supported by DOE funds, will be to study the effects of the radioactive fallout from the Chornobyl accident on the environment. Located in the Ukrainian city of Slavutych, the laboratory has become a focal point for international research on the effects of radiation. In addition the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Japan, and Germany have expressed an interest in sending scientists to the facility. The laboratory has state-of-the-art spectrometry, radiochemical and molecular analysis facilities, an industrial ecology department, informational and analytical facilities, and administrative offices.

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United Kingdom

The DOE Office of Science and Technology (OST) has contracted with AEA Technology to identify, modify, and demonstrate technology and processes jointly in the United States. AEA Technology has been tasked with evaluating the U.K. and European environmental management programs and technologies for their applicability to the U.S. waste cleanup program. Utilizing their broad experience in nuclear waste programs, AEA Technology and OST have successfully identified and deployed several technologies supporting high-level waste tanks and D&D. Projects of special note include:

  • Descaling Holding Tanks at Los Alamos - As part of a project to empty and clean 47 holding tanks at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), AEA Technology is developing a fluidic/robotic system to remove the scale build-up on the sides of these tanks. Decommissioning these tanks will allow significant savings in annual storage costs as the present tanks are not designed to hold process liquids. Lessons learned from this project will also provide the basis for tank waste retrieval work on tanks at Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory and some other process tanks at Mound.
  • Remote Clean Up of Debris from Hot Cells - Developed by AEA Technology, the ARTISAN robotic manipulator offers promise for retrieving debris and gross decontamination in hot cells before decommissioning. Under this cooperative program, AEA Technology is providing an ARTISAN manipulator to assist in site closure work at Battelle in Columbus, Ohio. Once Battelle has completed work on two hot cells, DOE will transfer the ARTISAN to another DOE site where the manipulator will continue decontamination and decommissioning activities.
  • Small Tank Retrieval with a Power Fluidic System - Building WD at Mound has 33 tanks that vary in size from 1,000-40,000 gallons, all with various types of wastes that need to be emptied and removed. AEA Technology plans to modify an existing small tank mixing system currently in use at the Oak Ridge Facility and transfer it to Mound to empty two tanks. Once those tanks are successfully emptied, the small tank mixing system will be used to remediate the remaining tanks.
  • Single Shell Tanks at Hanford Site - Scientists at DOE Richland and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are planning to demonstrate an AEA Technology-developed Power Fluidic system which could be used to empty more than sixty of the Single Shell tanks. These large capacity (1 million gallon) tanks contain solid monoliths of salt that prevent their decontamination and decommissioning. The system under development will add a small amount of water to dissolve the salt, and then recirculate the solution, enabling complete dissolution of the salt with the minimum of free liquid. Final deployment of this technology has been scheduled for the end of FY03/beginning of FY04.

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In May 1999, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) signed a Statement of Intent, outlining a cooperative project in the area of subsurface contamination in fractured bedrock entitled, "Development and Evaluation of Technologies to Remediate Fractured Bedrock Sites Contaminated by Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids (DNAPLs)". The Statement of Intent proposed that the Ontario MOE work jointly with the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Environmental Management, Office of Science and Technology to pursue the development, evaluation and dissemination of information about more cost-effective characterization and remediation techniques of fractured bedrock sites. In early 2001, it was agreed to establish a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between the Savannah River Technology Center and MOE. This agreement is being drafted with a final signature expected in fall 2001.

In addition, DOE and MOE, along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Smithville Phase IV Bedrock Remediation Program, held the International Fractured Bedrock Conference in Toronto, Ontario, March 26-28, 2001. Fractured Rock 2001 was an international conference addressing groundwater flow, solute transport, multiphase flow and remediation in fractured rock.

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View "DOE/JNC Collaborative Studies, Collaborative Work and Publications"

DOE and the Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute (JNC) (formerly known as the Japanese Nuclear Power and Fuel Development Corporation) signed an Agreement on Cooperation in the Area of Radioactive Waste Management in November 1986. The objective of the agreement is to study topics of joint interest associated with the safe management of radioactive wastes. Areas of cooperation covered by this agreement include waste characterization, performance of vitrified waste, development of new waste forms, waste treatment, transportation and storage of wastes, decontamination and decommissioning of facilities, and environmental impact issues.

The following three Environmental Management (EM)-related "Work for Others" Annexes to the Agreement have been signed in the past years between DOE and JNC:

  • Mass Transport: Characterization and Predictive Technologies - The work has been conducted at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) with funding support from JNC. The objectives of this collaborative program are to:

    1. Improve the understanding of the fundamental physics and chemistry that governs the processes that will play a significant role in the safety of radioactive waste disposal; and

    2. Develop characterization and predictive technologies of release and transport of radionuclides in heterogeneous geologic media.

    Four reports from this work have been published in peer review journals. These include:

    1. A Multidisciplinary Fractured Rock Characterization Study at Raymond Field Site, Raymond, California, Kenzi Karasaki, Barry Freifeld, Andrew Cohen, Ken Grossenbacher, Paul Cook and Don Vasco (Published in Journal of Hydrology, 236, 17-34, 2000);

    2. Dynamic Channeling of Flow and Transport in Saturated and Unsaturated Heterogeneous Media, Chin-Fu Tsang, Luis Moreno, Yvonne W. Tsang, and Jens Birkholzer (Published in AGU Monograph on Flow and Transport through Unsaturated Fractured Rock, eds. Tom Nicholson and Todd C. Rasmuson, May, 2001);

    3. A Particle-Tracking Method for Advective Transport in Fractures with Diffusion info Finite Matrix Blocks with Applications to Tracer Injection-Withdrawal Testing, Y.W. Tsang and C.F. Tsang (Published in Water Resources Research, 37(3): 831-835, 2001); and

    4. Tracer Mixing at Fracture Intersections, Guomin Li, (Published in Journal of Environmental Geology, 2001).

  • Thermochemical and Adsorption Data: The research has been performed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) with funding support from JNC. The primary objectives of this collaborative program include:

    1. The development of thermodynamic data for aqueous species and solid phases important to the geologic disposal of nuclear waste;

    2. The development of mechanistic adsorption data and constants essential for providing scientifically defensible models of adsorption processesl;

    3. The development of kinetic data needed to evaluate the importance of increased crystallinity of the solid phases on predicted aqueous solubilities; and

    4. Experimental validation of the thermodynamic data and adsorption models using waste glasses and geologic materials. These efforts provide the capability to perform quantitative and scientifically defensible performance assessment analyses.

  • Performance Assessment and Experimental Studies: The research has been performed at Sandia National Laboratory (SNL) with funding support from JNC. The primary objective of the collaborative program is to further develop radioactive waste management technologies in the following areas:

    1. Methodology development and implementation for performance assessment, site characterization planning, and decision analysis;

    2. Laboratory and field experimental work for process model development; and

    3. Quality assurance and other programmatic support.

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The project, "Development and Field-Testing of a Field Portable Chlorophyll Fluorometer for Optimizing Phytoremediation" is being conducted by DOE/EM in association with Central European Advanced Technologies (CEAT) and the Department of Atomic Physics of the Technical University of Budapest (TUB).

Chlorophyll fluorescence is an accepted measure of plant stress. Through this project, it has been shown that chlorophyll fluorescence can provide real time, in situ information concerning the effects of environmental contaminants on plants. CEAT and TUB have developed a field portable chlorophyll fluorometer are using it to support phytoremediation projects in Poland. The project is working to document the costs and performance of phytoremediation of lead at the field scale level, and to optimize the process. This is expected to result in a more efficient, cost-effective operating system for deployment within the DOE complex.

Studies conducted by CEAT/TUB have shown that chlorophyll fluorometer-mediated optimization of amendment application, as well as the pattern of irrigation, can substantially increase the uptake of heavy metals during a given crop. This finding will be demonstrated by combining the results of amendment application technology advances with the chlorophyll fluorometer in a field scale phytoremediation demonstration.

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Czech Republic

In an ongoing project with DOE, the Czech Technical University (CTU) in Prague has developed Polyacrylonitrile (PAN) as a absorber material for inorganic exchange materials such as Ammonium Molybdophosphate (AMP) and removal of cesium from acidic waste streams. Tests of AMP-PAN at INEEL have demonstrated its exceptional removal efficiencies and capabilities. Because of the utility of this chemical in processing waste streams, Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) is purchasing a non-exclusive license from CTU which will allow INEEL to employ AMP-PAN technology in their treatment of cesium wastes. Under this agreement, scientists from CTU will train INEEL chemists in production of AMP-PAN, allowing INEEL to produce the chemical for its own consumption.

The Efficient Separation and Processing Crosscutting Program supported the early development and testing of AMP-PAN, and the Waste Management Program at INEEL conducted subsequent testing of AMP-PAN technology. A paper entitled "Applications of New Inorganic-Organic Composite Absorbers with Polyacrylonitrile Binding Matrix for Separation of Radionuclides from Liquid Radioactive Wastes" summarizes the results of their findings. This paper was also presented at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization conference at Dubna, Russia in 1998. INEEL is completing an environmental impact study that will define the most promising approaches to their tank problems that will receive further development; AMP-PAN is included in the study.

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