News 12 at First at Five / Tuesday, April 10, 2012
AIKEN, S.C. -- It's another historic day at Savannah River Site.
"You saw clean energy, you're seeing environment stewardship, and national security is work we do day in and day out," said Dr. David Moody, the Department of Energy Site manager at Savannah River Site.
On Tuesday, the goal was environmental stewardship. Trucks dumped load after load of concrete known as grout into two old tanks. The tanks stored millions of gallons of liquid nuclear waste as nearby F Canyon made weapons during the Cold War.
"The grouting is the final stabilization for these tanks," said David Wood, the Waste Removal and Tank Closure project manager. "The tanks have had all of the high-level waste removed. There's only residuals there."
He says that's why Tuesday's event was an environmental victory.
"After filled with grout, the waste cannot migrate out, and those analyses are done for thousands of years," Wood said.
The tanks themselves held 1.3 million gallons of nuclear waste at their heyday. They can fit an entire high school basketball court inside of them and that's the reason they take so long to clean up.
"It took a long time not only to decide how clean was clean but also to develop the capability. The equipment didn't even exist to clean these tanks," Moody said.
But Moody says things will accelerate now.
"We are actively removing the waste from 15 of these tanks, 13 additional ones, as we speak," he told News 12.
After these tanks 18 and 19 are done, they'll just have 47 more tanks to go.
Of course, it will take a little while to fill the two tanks with concrete.
Two-thousand truck loads will have to be poured before both tanks are full. They say that will happen around the end of the summer.