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Intermediate-level wastes. These wastes are generally composed of:
1. Second-cycle wastes derived from the solvent extraction process.
2. First cycle waste condensates.
3. Coating wastes derived from the chemical decladding of nuclear fuel elements.
4. Aqueous wastes accumulated from washing and purifying the organic extractant. These wastes, either singly or pooled, are concentrated by evaporation. The distillate is routed to the low-level waste treatment system. The concentrated waste (still bottoms) is stored in underground tanks. The volume of intermediate-level waste generated per ton of uranium processed is several fold larger than that for the high-level waste.
Low-level wastes.--Low-level wastes are made up of water rejected from the distillation of intermediate-level wastes, process cooling water which has the potential of becoming contaminated, and other related process streams. This very large volume waste stream is treated by various methods to reduce the fission product content to acceptable levels and is then discharged to the environment. The fission products which were removed or "scavenged” from this solution are retained by tank storage on the plant site.
Gaseous wastes.—Gaseous wastes contain volatile fission products (for example, krypton and xenon) and other fission products that escape the chemical separations operations with process and ventilation air (for example, radio-iodine, tritium, and so forth). The gaseous wastes are treated chemically and filtered extensively to meet discharge limits for the disposal of gaseous wastes to the atmosphere.
CHARACTERISTICS OF WASTE STORAGE PRACTICE
From the foregoing, it is immediately evident that:
1. The fission product wastes are retained at the separation plant in a liquid and mobile form. Thus, these wastes are stored, not disposed of.
2. The only material disposed of, in the strictest sense and excluding the gaseous wastes, is water.
3. The integrity of the storage vessel is all important. Successive generations of storage tanks must be available as the original vessels fail from corrosion or other causes.
4. The storage system must be monitored continually to detect failure of the containment system resulting in the unwanted dispersal of fission products in a mobile form to the environs.
ACTIVITIES IN THE WASTE MANAGEMENT FIELD The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission is currently supporting a multimillion-dollar program within the AEC complex to develop and demonstrate practical and economic means of converting high-level aqueous wastes, typical of those assumed to be produced by the commercial fuel reprocessing industry, to immobile solids. These fission product-containing solids, either as calcines or after conversion to
glasses," are to be packaged in high integrity metal containers suitable for permanent storage in special geological formations, that is, salt mines, and so forth. It is to be noted that the conversion of the liquid
waste to a solid form results in an additional benefit; namely, the volume of calcined waste is the order of 1 cubic foot per ton of uranium processed as contrasted to a value of several hundred gallons per ton for the liquid waste. This program is scheduled for completion in the next 2 to 3 years.
Similar, but less extensive, programs are also being carried forward by the AEC for the conversion of intermediate-level wastes to immobile forms. Activities in the foreign field are also being pursued along technical lines paralleling those of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.
FUEL RECOVERY OPERATION—WASTE MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVES During the 1970's and beyond, it is expected that nuclear electric power will play a major role in the domestic electric power field, and as a consequence there will be a considerable amount of activity in the commercial nuclear fuel reprocessing business with the attendant production of fission product wastes.
The General Electric Co., through its fuel recovery operation, plans to participate in this expanding commercial business and will employ a technically advanced (relative to solvent extraction) reprocessing system for the recovery of the valuable constituents of spent nuclear fuels.
The waste handling operations planned for this advanced processthe aquafluor process—are consistent with our overall views on radioactive materials waste management; namely:
1. The high-level reprocessing waste will be converted to dry, solid form and subsequently sealed in metal containers. These waste containers will be retained at the separations plant to permit periodic evaluation of the integrity of the packaged waste and to allow for waste accountability and/or retrieval, if desired.
2. Intermediate and low-level wastes will be stored in a solid, nonmigratory matrix.
3. No liquid waste will be discharged to the surrounding surface or ground waters.
In summary, it is our view that:
1. All high-level radioactive wastes should be converted to a solid, nonmigratory form.
Since some of the fission products in high-level waste, for example, Sr-90, Cs-137, Pu-239, represent a significant hazard to man for many centuries, this waste should be packaged and stored so that surveillance and retrieval is possible.
2. Intermediate-level waste, although not as significant a hazard to man as high-level waste, should at least be stored in a nonmigratory matrix.
3. Gaseous wastes may be discharged to the environment as long as the radioactive content is below discharge limits as set by regulatory agencies. It can be noted, however, that recovery of krypton and xenon from gaseous wastes may become attractive as the separations industry matures. It is unlikely that their recovery would be based on health and safety criteria, but rather for their subsequent use as commercial chemicals.
of auto scrap.
RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, RESEARCH,
AND DEVELOPMENT BY DR. CHARLES A. BISHOP, U.S. STEEL CORP.
Question 1: How does the steel industry view the possibilities for recycle of metals in manufactured goods-autos, refrigerators, and so forth?
Answer: The steel industry has through the years been a purchaser of scrap for recycle. According to a recent statement before the Senate subcommittee considering bill S. 3400, Mr. W. S. Story, executive vice president of the Institute of Scrap Iron & Steel, stated that in the past 2 years steel mills and foundries bought more than 30 million tons of prepared scrap annually. This included more than 6 million tons
Scrap may be contaminated with foreign materials such as copper, nickel, zinc, lead, tin, aluminum, rubber, plastics, and so forth. While none of these foreign materials are helpful, at least three-copper, nickel, and tin--cannot be removed in the normal course of making steel. Accordingly, preparation of scrap by the scrap dealer is the only safeguard. However, I understand a great deal of thought is being given in many different quarters to solving the segregation problem by mechanical and magnetic methods.
In reading about the recycling of scrap, it is apparent that there are many ancillary problems, such as the collection of scrap in a neighborhood, the legal redtape as to the ownership of discarded vehicles, refrigerators, and other junk left on public property, and the ultimate transporation of the processed scrap to the steel plants.
Question 2: Regarding the need in a number of industries for a process to remove 80, from stack gases, could this best be attacked by Federal R. & D. contracts, or by an interindustry cooperative program, or by individual process engineering companies?
Answer: Since so many industries burn coal and oil, there is a broad interest in processes for removing SO, from stack gases. I believe that the initial studies should be carried out by Federal R. & D. contracts, either by Government agencies such as the Bureau of Mines, or by private research groups. For processes which show promise, grants should be made for demonstration plants to test the engineering design features.
RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, RESEARCH,
AND DEVELOPMENT BY DR. COLIN M. MACLEOD, EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
Question 1: Could you describe existing coordination mechanisms within the executive branch for scientific activity in environmental pollution?
Answer: The President's Office of Science and Technology functions to coordinate scientific activities on environmental pollution in a variety of ways. In addition to providing advice and assistance to the President by evaluating programs and assisting to develop policies, the Office assists in coordinating agency activities through frequent formal and informal contacts with agency representatives.
The Office of Science and Technology maintains close liaison with the Federal Committee on Pest Control, including attendance at all meetings of FCPC. The Office also works closely with the Bureau of the Budget in providing leadership in the planning of Federal Government programs, organization, and policy on matters of environmental pollution.
The OST staff is presently analyzing and evaluating the responses of Government agencies to the President's request for recommendations as to how the Federal Government can best direct its efforts toward advancing understanding of natural plant and animal communities and their interactions with man, which is concerned directly with environmental pollution and natural beauty.
The Office provides a staff member to participate in the President's Council on Recreation and Natural Beauty.
The Committee on Water Resources Research of the Federal Council for Science and Technology has evaluated the needs for research in problems of water pollution by the Federal Government. Its recommendations on water quality management and protection are included in the report “A 10-Year Program of Federal Water Resources Research" (1966). The work of the FCST Committee on Water Resources Research was supported by the Panel on Water Resources of the Office of Science and Technology. The recommendations of the Panel are reflected in the report of the FCST Committee on Water Resources Research.
In addition to the 10-year program for water resources research, the Federal Council for Science and Technology has issued progress reports on Federal water resources research for each of the past 3 years.
The President's Science Advisory Committee, for which OST provides staff support, has studied in depth a number of major pollution problems and has made recommendations for policies and programs needed to alleviate them. Examples include the PSAC reports: “Use of Pesticides" (1963), “Restoring the Quality of our Environment" (1965), and "Effective Use of the Sea” (1966). At the present time the Office of Science and Technology and the Bureau of the Budget are analyzing and coordinating the responses of Government agencies to
the recommendations in the report “Restoring the Quality of Our Environment" and will take actions based on this analysis.
Question 2: Is there a formal procedure whereby Federal activities which might result in lowering the quality of the environment can be reviewed in the light of broader public interest considerations? (Such a function might be similar to the Federal Committee on Pest Control.)
Answer: At the present time there is no organization whose primary responsibility is to review comprehensively Federal activities that might result in lowering the quality of our environment. The Federal Committee on Pest Control is concerned with insecticides, fungicides, nematocides, herbicides, and bactericides. In addition, the Special Assistant for Science and Technology, under a national security action memorandum, has the responsibility to review largescale experiments that might have a deleterious effect on the environment. Major problems of environmental pollution have been evaluated from time to time by the President's Science Advisory Committee as noted above.
The evaluation the Office of Science and Technology and the Bureau of the Budget is presently making of the recommendations of the PSAC report “Restoring the Quality of Our Environment and the responses of Government agencies to that report, includes consideration of establishing either an interagency committee on environmental pollution or a committee of the Federal Council for Science and Technology to be concerned with problems of environmental pollution.
The PSAC report made the following recommendations concerning identification of problems and coordination of actions:
“(a) The Federal Council for Science and Technology should establish a Committee on Pollution Problems, composed of its own members.
“(b) The National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council should be asked to establish an Environmental Pollution Board, to be supported by Government grant.
"(c) This NAS-NRC Board should meet jointly with the FCST Committee at least once a year to discuss newly recognized broad problems and current changes in the apparent importance of those previously recognized.
“(d) The Board and Committee should cooperate, through workinglevel mechanisms such as joint panels, to identify the most pressing broad problems, and the general character of new knowledge or techniques needed to study or ameliorate them.”
Our current evalaution of the PSAC report is deeply concerned with these recommendations.
Question 3: What is your view on the “National Commission for Environmental Protection” suggested by the NAS report "Waste Management and Control”?
Answer: In my opinion a high-level planning and coordinating body should be established such as the "National Commission for Environmental Protection” suggested in the NAS report, or mechanisms such as were recommended in the PSAC report and noted immediately above.
When the OST BOB evaluation of the PSAC Report "Restoring the Quality of our Environment” has been completed, we will be in a much better position to recommend what type of planning and coordinating body or bodies should be established.