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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

Hammond: Construction team dedicated "to doing it safely and doing it well"

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The liquid-waste contractor at a former nuclear-weapons manufacturing site in South Carolina is receiving kudos from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for completing a construction project early and under budget.

The construction team for Savannah River Mission Completion (SRMC) at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in Aiken, S.C., also met Priority No. 1 of the Office of Environmental Management (EM) priority, the DOE reports in the Oct. 11 announcement. EM 2022 is a list of priorities for remediation of former government-sponsored nuclear research and development sites; the first priority is "Achieve Significant Construction Milestones."

Contractor SRMC's completion of concrete placements on Saltstone Disposal Unit (SDU) 9, a 34-million-gallon storage tank, was "another major accomplishment for the overall SDU program,” Tim Hammond, SDU project manager, said in the announcement. “These units continue to be a success story, and I am proud to be part of a great team."

The SRS is a 310-square-mile facility that produced materials such as plutonium and tritium used in nuclear weapons from the early 1950s until 1991, the DOE states. In 1992, environmental cleanup, nuclear-materials management, and research and development became the focus of work at the site.

SDUs - large, cylindrical, above-ground tanks - are the final disposal locations for a grout-like mixture of decontaminated salt solution (DSS) that hardens "like cement," the DOE reports. Construction of an SDU requires more than 20,000 cubic yards of concrete and 700,000 labor hours to place "25 wall sections, 208 support columns and seven roof sections — all made of concrete," the DOE reports.

The Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF) has processed more than 900,000 gallons of waste since July, according to the announcement. Jim Folk, an SRS assistant manager, said SDUs are crucial to the site's liquid-waste mission.

“With the (SWPF) processing rates continuing to increase," Folk said in the report, "these larger SDUs will be needed to keep up with the increased output,” Folk said.

Several construction jobs must be completed and the unit tested before SDU 9 is cleared for operation; the remaining work is expected to be finished "within the next year, ahead of schedule," the DOE reports.

“Achieving this priority while moving forward with other construction projects demonstrates our team’s dedication to doing our job," Hammond said, "and doing it safely and doing it well."

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