Northrop Grumman to supply vitrification unit

25 March 2009

Northrop Grumman has been awarded a contract to supply a melter for the vitrification of liquid radioactive waste at the Savannah River site in South Carolina.


SRS liquid waste tank (DOE)
A liquid waste tank at SRS (Image: DoE)
Newport News Industrial (NNI), a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman's shipbuilding division, is the prime contractor for the work, which is valued at some $9.5 million. The melter will be part of at the Defence Waste Processing Facility at the US Department of Energy's (DoE's) Savannah River Site in South Carolina.
The two-and-a-half year project will include the fabrication, assembly, piping, wiring, and testing of a water-cooled, stainless steel pressure vessel called a melter. The melter is used to convert liquid nuclear waste into a solid glass form suitable for long-term storage and disposal.
The liquid waste being converted by the melter is generated as a by-product of the processing of nuclear materials for national defence, research and medical programs.
Doug Stitzel, director of DoE programs for Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding and president of NNI, said: "We are very pleased with this award and NNI's further expansion into the DoE market." He added, "This is a complex fabrication project requiring stringent quality controls that is an ideal fit with NNI's capabilities."
The SRS liquid waste contract is managed by a team of contractors led by Washington Savannah River Co, a subsidiary of URS Washington Division. The contract - worth up to a total of some $3.3 billion - was awarded to the Savannah River Remediation consortium by the DoE in December 2008. The consortium - which includes Bechtel, CH2M Hill, and Babcock and Wilcox - will assume management of the SRS liquid waste system in April 2009.
The objective of the liquid waste contract is to achieve closure of the SRS liquid waste tanks in compliance with the Federal Facilities Agreement, utilising the DWPF and the Saltstone Facility.
Completion of the environmental management mission at SRS will ultimately involve the treatment and disposal of some 136 million litres of radioactive liquid wastes currently stored in 49 underground tanks, as well as the radioactive liquid waste resulting from planned nuclear materials stabilization activities; the operational closure of the 49 underground storage tanks; and the deactivation of the major facilities and equipment that comprises the liquid waste system.
The Savannah River Site was constructed during the 1950s to produce the basic materials used in the fabrication of nuclear weapons, primarily tritium and plutonium-239. Five reactors were built on the site as well as support facilities including two chemical separations plants, a water extraction plant, a nuclear fuel and target fabrication facility and waste management facilities.