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Calcine Disposition Project

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The Calcine Disposition Project manages calcined high-level waste (HLW) stored at the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center (INTEC). The Project supports the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) legal obligations to remove calcined HLW from Idaho and the long-term strategic goal to protect human health and the environment. Calcine is a dry, solid, granular material similar to coarse sand. It is highly radioactive and is managed as HLW.

In 2015, DOE initiated an independent analysis of alternatives for the treatment and disposal of calcined waste. The analysis determined that treatment and disposal of calcined HLW are uncertain at this time because treatment technologies are immature and there is no designated long-term storage site (e.g., deep geological repository such as Yucca Mountain). DOE concluded that, regardless of treatment and disposal uncertainties, all treatment and disposal options require retrieval of calcine from the bin sets.

Therefore, the Calcine Disposition Project includes calcine retrieval and calcine processing, with a near-term project priority on calcine retrieval activities. The Calcine Retrieval Project developed and is testing a full-scale retrieval system to demonstrate DOE’s ability to safely retrieve calcine. Various retrieval and transfer concepts are being tested using a vacuum retrieval system for bulk and residual cleanout. The objectives of testing by the Calcine Retrieval Project are to eliminate risks, optimize final design configurations, and determine the efficacy of calcine removal for environmental closure.

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