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Officials removing radioactive waste from Idaho facility

This undated photo courtesy of the Idaho National Laboratory shows Experimental Breeder Reactor-I, near Idaho Falls, Idaho. (Idaho National Laboratory / Associated Press)
This undated photo courtesy of the Idaho National Laboratory shows Experimental Breeder Reactor-I, near Idaho Falls, Idaho. (Idaho National Laboratory / Associated Press)

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – Work has begun to remove 5,700 cubic yards of radioactive waste from an eastern Idaho federal nuclear facility, officials said.

U.S. Department of Energy project manager Mark Shaw said workers will build replica containers to test methods of removing the detergent-like powdered waste, known as calcine, that’s buried in concrete containers at the 890-square-mile site that includes the Idaho National Laboratory.

Shaw told members of the Idaho National Laboratory Site Citizens Advisory Board last week that workers will drill holes in the containers and vacuum out the waste, the Post Register reported.

“It’s all pretty simple stuff: drilling holes in concrete, welding pipe,” Shaw said. “We have to adapt some things, but it’s nothing we can’t pull off.”

The waste, known as calcine, was generated by spent fuel recycling at the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center between 1963 and 2000.

Liquid waste from the recycling was turned into powder to make it more manageable.

The waste must be treated and ready for shipment from Idaho by 2035, according to a 1995 state settlement with the energy department. Authorities have yet to create a geologic waste repository for the calcine.


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