The site covers 365,000 acres (570 square miles). In addition to the Hanford
nuclear reactors the Columbia
Nuclear Power Plant is located on the reservation. The reservation has
been described as the most radiation-contaminated of the US nuclear facilities.
[Federal Register: July 8, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 130)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Disposal of Immobilized
Low-Activity Wastes From Hanford Tank Waste Processing
AGENCY: Department of Energy.
ACTION: Notice of intent.
SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announces its intent to prepare
a supplemental environmental impact statement (Supplemental EIS) to the Tank
Waste Remediation System, Hanford Site, Richland, Washington, Final Environmental
Impact Statement (TWRS EIS, DOE/EIS-0189, August 1996). The TWRS EIS evaluated
alternatives for the disposal of mixed, radioactive, and hazardous waste
stored or projected to be stored in 177 underground storage tanks and
approximately 60 active and inactive miscellaneous underground storage tanks
associated with the Hanford Site's tank farm operations. The TWRS EIS also
evaluated alternatives for the management and disposal of approximately 1,930
cesium and strontium capsules stored at the Hanford Site. This EIS included
analyses of on-site disposal of immobilized (vitrified) low-activity waste
resulting from chemical separation of the Hanford tank wastes. In its Record
of Decision (62 FR 8693, February 1997), DOE decided on the Phased Implementation
Alternative, to chemically separate and vitrify high-level and low-activity
wastes retrieved from the tanks. In Phase I, the immobilized low-activity
waste would be placed in near-surface, retrievable disposal vaults on-site.
DOE is now reconsidering the type of disposal facility for the immobilized
low-activity waste, the location of this disposal facility on the Site, and
the physical form of the vitrified low-activity waste product. Accordingly,
DOE invites public comment on the scope of the Supplemental EIS that would
evaluate potential changes in the Department's plans.
DATES: The public scoping period begins with the publication of this Notice
and extends through August 26, 2002. DOE invites all interested parties to
submit written comments or suggestions during the scoping period. Written
comments must be postmarked by August 26, 2002 and submitted to the DOE document
manager (see ADDRESSES below). Comments postmarked after that date will be
considered to the extent practicable.
Oral and written comments will be received at a public scoping meeting to
be held on the date and at the location given below: Richland, Washington,
August 20, 2002, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm Red Lion Hanford House, Benton-Franklin
Room, 802 George Washington Way, Richland, WA 99352.
For further information, see Public Scoping Meetings under SUPPLEMENTARY
ADDRESSES: Address comments on the scope of the Supplemental EIS to the DOE
Document Manager: Ms. Gae M. Neath, U.S. Department of Energy, Post Office
Box 450, Mail Stop H6-60, Richland, WA 99352, Electronic Mail:
Gae--M--Neath@rl.gov, Telephone: (509) 376-7828.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information regarding the TWRS EIS or
the Supplemental EIS, contact Ms. Neath as described above. For information
on DOE's National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, contact: Ms. Carol
M. Borgstrom, Director, Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance (EH-42), U.S.
Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20585,
Telephone: 202-586-4600, Facsimile: (202) 586-7031, or leave a message at
1-800-472-2756 (toll free).
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Federal government established the Hanford
Site, near Richland, Washington, in 1943, to produce plutonium for national
defense as part of the Manhattan Project. Metallic uranium fuel was irradiated
in nuclear reactors, and then the fuel was chemically processed to recover
plutonium. Plutonium production at the Hanford Site stopped in 1988.
Tank Wastes at the Hanford Site
Processing reactor fuel and related activities at the Hanford Site created
a wide variety of radioactive wastes that have been stored in 177 underground
tanks. Typically, the tank wastes are highly radioactive and mixed with hazardous
There are 149 single-shell tanks storing about 125.7 million liters (ML)
(33.2 million gallons (Mgal)) of waste at the Hanford Site. Single shell
tanks have one steel wall, surrounded by reinforced concrete; they were
constructed between 1944 and 1964 with a design life of 20 to 30 years. The
single-shell tanks received waste from chemical processing until 1980. The
capacity of most single-shell tanks is 1.9 ML to 3.8 ML (0.5 Mgal to 1.0
Mgal). The tanks are located under ground and are covered with 1.8 to 3 meters
(6 to 10 feet) of earth. These tanks contain radioactive liquids, saltcake,
and sludge. About half of the single-shell tanks have leaked or are assumed
to have leaked.
Approximately 3.9 ML (1.0 Mgal) of waste has leaked or spilled into the nearby
soil. Over the years, much of the liquid stored in single-shell tanks has
been evaporated or pumped to double-shell tanks as part of DOE's Interim
Tank Stabilization Program to prevent further leakage.
There are twenty-eight 3.9 ML (1.0 Mgal) double-shell tanks at Hanford. The
double-shell tanks were constructed between 1970 and 1986. Most of these
tanks are designed for up to 50 years of storage. They are similar to the
single-shell tanks, but double-shell tanks have a second steel containment
wall. The space between the two walls is monitored for leaks, and none of
the double-shell tanks has been known to leak. The double-shell tanks are
used to treat and store a variety of liquid radioactive wastes from the
single-shell tanks and from various Hanford Site processes. The double-shell
tanks now contain about 79.5 ML (21.0 Mgal) of waste.
Tank Waste Remediation System Environmental Impact Statement
The TWRS EIS addressed the management, treatment, storage, and disposal of
the waste currently stored in the existing tanks and other wastes that may
be generated during future decontamination and decommissioning activities
at Hanford. The scope of the EIS included safe operations, waste retrieval,
and treatment and disposal of tank waste. The EIS also addressed the management
of approximately 1930 radioactive cesium and strontium capsules. The EIS
evaluated 10 tank waste alternatives and 4 alternatives for managing the
cesium and strontium capsules. The tank waste alternatives included a No
Action Alternative and a range of action alternatives that involved varying
degrees of tank waste retrieval and chemical separation of high-level and
low-activity wastes. In all of the alternatives involving chemical separation
of tank wastes, the high-level waste would be vitrified and stored until
it could be shipped to a potential geologic repository. The low-activity
waste would be immobilized and placed into near-surface concrete (grout)
vaults on site.
The TWRS EIS Record of Decision (TWRS ROD) selected the Department's Preferred
Alternative, the Phased Implementation Alternative, and deferred a decision
on the cesium and strontium capsules. During Phase I (demonstration phase)
of the Phased Implementation Alternative, DOE would retrieve a portion of
the waste from the tanks and chemically separate the low-activity and high-level
wastes. Demonstration-scale waste treatment facilities would be designed,
constructed, and operated to immobilize tank waste. DOE also decided that
immobilized low-activity waste would be prepared for future on site disposal
in existing grout vaults. The phased approach would allow DOE to use the
lessons learned from the demonstration phase to improve the design, construction,
and operations of full-scale facilities constructed during Phase II.
In accordance with the TWRS ROD, DOE has continued to evaluate new information
pertinent to Hanford tank waste remediation and is now reconsidering aspects
of Phase I implementation for low-activity waste. Specifically, DOE is now
considering a different type of disposal facility, a different on-site disposal
location, and a different physical form of the vitrified low-activity waste
product than were originally analyzed in the TWRS EIS. Accordingly, DOE has
decided to prepare a Supplemental EIS.
DOE proposes to dispose of immobilized low-activity waste generated from
the retrieval and treatment of tank wastes at the Hanford Site in near-surface
trenches located in the 200 East Area of the Hanford
This proposal represents a change in DOE's decision in the TWRS ROD to
retrievably dispose of low-activity wastes in concrete vaults. The proposed
low-activity waste form also is different from the Phased Implementation
Alternative, under which tank waste would be immobilized in vitrified cullet,
produced by quenching the molten glass in water following vitrification,
resulting in gravel-sized pieces of glass. DOE proposes instead to immobilize
low-activity waste in monoliths, produced by casting the molten glass into
a canister, resulting in a single encased piece of glass.
In accordance with the TWRS ROD, DOE will continue to evaluate new information
relative to the tank waste remediation program. As this information becomes
available, DOE may consider new treatment technologies and would conduct
further NEPA review as appropriate.
Disposal of Immobilized Low-Activity Waste in Near-Surface Engineered
Systems (i.e., Trenches) in the 200 East Area of the Hanford Site
This alternative reflects current DOE planning for disposal of immobilized
low-activity waste generated from tank waste retrieval and chemical separation.
The immobilized low-activity waste would be placed in sealed containers,
and disposed of in lined trenches with leachate collection systems in the
200 East Area of the Hanford Site. DOE will evaluate the impacts associated
with the disposal of immobilized low-activity waste in trenches and closing
and capping the trenches with a range of barriers.
Disposal of Immobilized Low-Activity Waste in Near-Surface Engineered
Systems (i.e., Trenches) in the 200 West Area of the Hanford Site
Under this alternative, the immobilized low-activity waste would be placed
in sealed containters and disposed of in lined trenches with leachate collection
systems at a representative site in the 200 West Area of the Hanford Site.
DOE will evaluate the impacts associated with the disposal of the low-activity
waste in trenches and closing and capping the trenches with a range of barriers.
No Action Alternative
In the Supplemental EIS, the No Action Alternative will be the Phased
Implementation Alternative selected in the TWRS EIS ROD. Under this alternative,
DOE would implement its previous decision concerning immobilized low-activity
waste: retrievable disposal of the low-activity waste in concrete vaults
located at the Hanford Site. The analysis of this alternative would be updated
with information that has become available since the TWRS EIS was published
to ensure an appropriate comparison among alternatives.
Preliminary Issues Identified for Analysis
The following issues have been preliminarily identified for analysis in the
Supplemental EIS. This list is presented to facilitate public comment on
the scope of the Supplemental EIS and is not intended to be all-inclusive
or to predetermine the potential impacts of any of the alternatives.
(1) Potential effects on the public and onsite workers from releases of
radiological and nonradiological materials during normal operations and from
reasonably forseeable accidents;
(2) Pollution prevention and waste minimization;
(3) Potential effects on air and water quality and other environmental
consequences of normal operations and potential accidents;
(4) Potential cumulative effects of operations at the Hanford Site, including
relevant impacts from past, present, and reasonably foreseeable activities
at the Site;
(5) Potential effects on endangered species, floodplain/wetlands,
(6) Potential long-term effects on groundwater, surface water, and human
(7) Effects from normal transportation and postulated transportation accidents;
(8) Potential socioeconomic impacts on surrounding communities;
(9) Unavoidable adverse environmental effects;
(10) Short-term uses of the environment versus long-term productivity;
(11) Potential irretrievable and irreversible commitment of resources.
The Hanford Communities, a Washington State intergovernmental group representing
the local communities of Richland, West Richland, Kennewick, and Pasco, Benton
County, and the Port of Benton, is a cooperating agency in the preparation
of this Supplemental EIS.
Public Scoping Meeting
DOE invites the public to attend a scoping meeting at which comments may
be presented on the scope of the Supplemental EIS. Oral and written comments
will be considered equally in preparation of the Supplemental EIS. Oral and
written comments will be received at the public scoping meeting as stated
under DATES above. DOE will begin the scoping meeting with a short presentation
on the Supplemental EIS process, the proposed action, preliminary alternatives,
and other related information. Individuals and organizations will then be
invited to present comments. Requests to speak at the public meetings may
be made by calling or writing to the DOE document manager (see ADDRESSES
above). Registered speakers will be heard on a first-come, first-served basis.
Requests to speak made at the meeting will be honored as time permits. Written
comments will be accepted at the meeting. Speakers are encouraged to provide
written versions of their oral comments for the record.
A moderator will conduct the meeting. DOE staff and the moderator may ask
speakers clarifying questions. Individuals speaking on behalf of an organization
must identify the organization. Each speaker will be allowed five minutes
to present comments unless more time is available. Comments will be recorded
by a court reporter and will become part of the scoping meeting record. A
question and answer period will be held after speakers have had an opportunity
Related NEPA Documentation
Other NEPA documents that may be relevant to the Supplemental EIS include:
(1) Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Tank Waste Remediation System,
Hanford Site, Richland, Washington, DOE/EIS-0189, U.S. Department of Energy,
Washington, DC, 1996, Record of Decision issued February 1997, and Supplement
Analyses 1 (June 1997), 2 (May 1998), and 3 (March 2001).
(2) Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Safe Interim Storage of
Hanford Tank Wastes, Hanford Site, Richland, Washington, DOE/EIS-0212, 1995,
Record of Decision issued November 1995, U.S. Department of Energy, Richland,
(3) Final Environmental Impact Statement for Disposal of Hanford Defense
High-Level Transuranic and Tank Wastes, Hanford Site, Richland, Washington,
DOE/EIS-0113, 1987, Record of Decision issued April 1988, U.S. Department
of Energy, Washington, DC.
(4) Final Environmental Statement for Waste Management Operations, Hanford
Reservation, Richland, Washington, ERDA-1538, 1975. U.S. Energy Research
and Development Administration, Washington, DC.
(5) Final Environmental Impact Statement for Hanford Comprehensive Land Use
Plan, Hanford Site, Richland, Washington, DOE/EIS-0222, 1999, Record of Decision
issued November 1999, U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, DC.
(6) Waste Management Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, DOE/EIS-0200,
U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, DC, May 1997. DOE published Records
of Decision: TRU Treatment January 1998; Hazardous Waste Treatment August
1998; High-Level Waste Storage August 1999; Low-Level and Mixed Low-Level
Waste, February 2000.
(7) Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Hanford Site Solid (Radioactive
and Hazardous) Waste Program, DOE/EIS-0286, April 2002, U.S. Department of
Energy, Richland, Washington.
(8) Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Idaho High-Level Waste and
Facilities Disposition, DOE/EIS-0287, January 2001, U.S. Department of Energy,
(9) Draft SEPA Environmental Impact Statement for Commercial Low-Level
Radioactive Waste Disposal Site (US Ecology) on the Hanford Site, August
2000, Washington Department of Ecology, Olympia, Washington.
(10) Environmental Assessments. Trench 33 Widening in 218-W-5 Low-Level Burial
Ground, DOE/EA-1203, FONSI July 1997; Widening Trench 36 of the 218-E-12B
Low-Level Burial Ground, DOE/EA-1276, FONSI February 1999; Use of Existing
Borrow Areas, Hanford Site, Richland, Washington, DOE/EA-1403, FONSI October
2001; Transuranic Waste Retrieval from the 218-W-4B and 218-W-4C Low-Level
Burial Grounds, Hanford Site, Richland, Washington, DOE/EA-1405, FONSI March
Issued in Washington, DC on June 28, 2002.
Beverly A. Cook,
Assistant Secretary, Office of Environment, Safety and Health.
[FR Doc. 02-16946 Filed 7-5-02; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6450-01-P