Friday, March 20, 2015

GoldSim Applications at (Radioactive) Waste Management Conference

Posted by Rick Kossik

I've just returned from the Waste Management (WM) Conference in Phoenix, which we attend annually.  This conference attracts thousands of registrants from around the world and is widely regarded as the premier international conference for the management of radioactive material and related topics. As many of you know, although GoldSim is currently used in a wide variety of applications, it was originally developed to support radioactive waste management applications (if you are curious, I discussed this early history in a previous blog post). GoldSim continues to be used extensively worldwide for such applications, and typically during the conference a number of technical papers featuring GoldSim are presented. It is always rewarding and exciting to sit in a technical session at a conference and see how GoldSim has been applied to address an interesting and important problem.  A few such applications discussed at the conference are briefly summarized in this post.

  • Preliminary Performance Assessment of Waste Management Area C at the Hanford Site in Southeastern Washington. Hanford is a (mostly) decommissioned nuclear production complex operated by the US federal government (starting in 1943) on the Columbia River in southeastern Washington state. Many early waste disposal practices were, in hindsight, inadequate, and numerous studies have confirmed that Hanford's operations released significant amounts of radioactive materials into the environment. As a result, Hanford is currently considered the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States and is the focus of the nation's largest environmental cleanup. Waste Management Area (WMA) C is one of seven WMAs at the site and contains 149 single-shelled tanks built from 1943 to 1964. Marcel Bergeron of Washington River Protection Solutions described a Performance Assessment (PA) that was carried out to assess the fate, transport, and impacts of radionuclides and hazardous chemicals within residual wastes left in tanks and ancillary equipment and facilities in their assumed closed configuration and the subsequent risks to humans into the far future. This PA used GoldSim as the simulation framework. The technical paper can be found here, and a Powerpoint presentation can be found here.
  • Safety Assessment for the Radon-Type Surface Disposal Facility at Saakadze, Georgia.  In the 1960s the former USSR established 35 “Radon-Type” facilities for the near surface disposal of low and intermediate level institutional radioactive waste and disused sealed radiation sources.  The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has subsequently determined that  these facilities do not meet the currently accepted safety standards for near surface disposal. One such site is in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. The European Commission (EC) funded a project to, among other things, carry out a safety assessment of the existing disposal facility and provide recommendations for addressing any problems.  This work was carried out by the German firms DBE Technology and TUV NORD EnSys Hannover. Bernt Haverkamp of DBE Technology described the safety assessment, which was carried out using GoldSim.
  • Texas Authorizes Disposal of Large Quantities of Depleted Uranium at WCS. Waste Control Specialists (WCS) is a treatment, storage, & disposal company dealing in radioactive, hazardous, and mixed wastes. The WCS facility in western Andrews County (Texas) is the only commercial facility in the United States licensed in more than 30 years to dispose of Class A, B and C low-level radioactive waste. It is also licensed for the treatment and storage of low-level radioactive waste, and has served as a temporary storage facility for U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) projects. The performance assessment for the facility demonstrating its long-term safety was carried out using GoldSim. In this presentation, Scott Kirk of WCS discussed a recent amendment that, among other things, authorized the disposal of depleted uranium.
  • Licensing of the National Repository for LILW Waste in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian government recognized the need for building a National Disposal Facility (NDF) to dispose of the low and intermediate level radioactive waste (LILW) arising from the operation and decommissioning of Bulgarian nuclear power plants and from other sources in research, medical applications and industry. To this end, the Bulgarian State Enterprise for Radioactive Waste Management (SERAW) awarded a contract for development of the NDF design, including an Intermediate Safety Analysis Report (ISAR), to the Consortium of Westinghouse Electric Spain, DBE Technology (of Germany) and ENRESA, the Spanish National Waste Management Agency. The ISAR is intended to demonstrate the safety and suitability of the proposed NDF design. The ISAR was carried out using GoldSim.  Enrique Biurrun of DBE Technology described the progress on the project, noting that the SERAW's goal is to receive a license for construction of the NDF in early 2015.

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