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H-Canyon US DOE
H-Canyon, US DOE

From Savannah River Site Watch:
The incident that caused the partial site shutdown occurred on September 3 and involved transfer in the HB-Line – sits atop the H-Canyon reprocessing plant – of 400 grams of weapon-grade plutonium from a single “3013” plutonium storage can into 3 sample cans.

Criticality control procedures were violated by personnel in how the cans were handled, resulting in not only closure of H-Canyon but many other site activities managed by Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNL).

Plutonium removed from the 3013 cans (stored in K Aea) is being processed into plutonium oxide for the mismanaged MOX project though it is more likely that such purified plutonium will be discarded at much lower cost as nuclear waste. DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is paying DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM), which operates H-Canyon, about $20 million/year for oxide production. NNSA must be getting a bit angry as only about 15+ kg of oxide have been prepared for them in 2014 and 2015.

While the HB-Line incident is being reviewed no timeline for finishing that review or restarting HB-Line for MOX plutonium oxide “feedstock” production were given.

There was also a presentation at the SRS CAB meeting on September 22 entitled “Update on H Area Operations” – linked here [1] but it didn’t contain much new information about the criticality incident on September 3, the second such criticality incident this year. To satisfy NNSA, which wouldn’t need the oxide (to be made into MOX fuel pellets) for another 15 years even if the MOX plant were to be finished and could somehow start operations, the goal is to put the HB-Line facility into 24/7 operation. But there is a long ways to go before that could happen.http://www.srswatch.org
[1] http://www.srswatch.org/uploads/2/7/5/8/27584045/update_on_h_area_operations_to_srs_cab_september_23_2015.pdf

The US government is spending billions to import foreign nuclear waste under the bogus claim of “non-proliferation”. Radioactive waste is taken from Europe, for instance. The US taxpayer pays a fortune to poison America with foreign nuclear waste. It has plenty of its own.

Thus, for 2016, only, $1.9 billion was requested by the DOE for these so-called nuclear nonproliferation activities, where the US runs all over the world taking the foreign HEU-spent fuel to supposedly reduce global stocks of weapons-useable nuclear materials. Most of the countries (e.g. Sweden) could take care of the waste themselves, better than the US can. Plus it goes by rail, road, boat and even airplane, endangering the public. http://www.energy.gov/articles/energy-department-presents-fy16-budget-request
From SRS to WIPP ca 1999
A lot of Savannah River Site transuranic (e.g. plutonium, americium) radioactive waste was sent to WIPP, which is currently closed because of a radioactive waste drum explosion that sent plutonium and americium into the facility and out into the world.
WIPP 22 May 2014
Pu SRS DOE presentation
Last image from a DOE presentation found here: http://www.srswatch.org/uploads/2/7/5/8/27584045/update_on_h_area_operations_to_srs_cab_september_23_2015.pdf