Environmental Defense Institute
Troy, Idaho 83871-0220
Sent via Certified US Mail
Waste and Remediation Division
Idaho Department of Environmental Quality
1410 North Hilton, Boise, ID 83706-1255
RE: Public Comments (including all attachments) for inclusion in the public record
on US Department of Energy (DOE) HWMA/RCRA Draft Partial Closure Plan CPP-648 Radioactive Solids and Liquid Waste Storage Tank System (VES-SFE-106) at the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center (INTEC), Idaho National Laboratory (INL) formerly called Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL), EPA ID No. ID4890008952
Dear Mr. Bullock,
The Environmental Defense Institute (EDI) has always supported waste closure plans that include the complete extraction of waste tanks, its contents, and the appropriate treatment/disposal of all related contents/components as prescribed in the Hazardous Waste Management Act (HWMA) and Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) statutes and related Nuclear Regulatory Commission radioactive waste disposal regulations.
Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ) Fact Sheet Facility/Unit Description states in part: "The VES-SFE-106 Tank System [located southeast of CPP-603 in CPP-648's southern end] was placed into service in 1972 and was used to store characteristically hazardous wastes that were generated as a result of spent nuclear fuel storage activities, including treatment of the basin water that provided radioactive shielding for the spent nuclear fuel. The CPP-603 fuel storage basin water was treated in the CP-603 Basin Water Treatment System (BWTS), which circulated the water through ion exchange columns and sand filters an then back to the three storage basins. The waste generated by the BWTS was pumped to the VES-SFE-106 Tank for storage. This waste stream was further treated by a clarification process within Tank VES-SFE-106.
" The VES-SFE-106 Tank is a 25,000 gallon tank constructed of Type 304 stainless steel. Solids were allowed to settle in the VES-SFE-106 tank and were periodically removed and disposed. The tank currently holds an estimated 5,000 -7,000 gallons of sludge."
IDEQ fails to note that waste collected from the Fuel Element Cutting Facility (FECF) located in CPP-603 was piped over to CPP-648 described in the FFA/CO Site CPP-69 as the SFE-20 Radioactive Liquid Waste Storage Tank System. "The FECF was used to remotely cut the 14-ft-long fuel elements into lengths that could be accommodated in the G-cell dissolver in the CPP-601." (1) VES-SFE-106 replaced SFE-20 (closed separately) in 1972 as recipient of CPP-603 storage basin waste.
The "Fact Sheet" related to this tank closure plan as offered on the IDEQ's website, though helpful lacks details on crucial issues needed for the public to make informed decisions about the appropriateness of the proposed action, include but are not limited to the following:
1. IDEQ's Fact Sheet [page 2]notes: "Tank system components, undergoing HWMA/RECA closure will either be decontaminated to site specific action levels specified in the HWMA/RECA Draft Closure Plan or will be removed and disposed."
This is an unacceptable level of uncertainty as to what option will be implemented. Moreover, the "site specific action levels" are based on risk analysis that utilizes grossly inaccurate contaminate fate and transport modeling assumptions.
2. The IDEQ Fact Sheet [page 2] further notes: "The waste in VES-SFE-106 will be removed by fluidizing the sludge and transferring to containers where it will be treated with a grout and solidified. If the treated sludge is tested by TCLP and found to be a non-hazardous waste per RCRA, the container with the treated material will be transported to the INL Radioactive Waste Management Complex (RWMC) for disposal."
RCRA specifically prohibits dilution of hazardous waste (40 CFR 268.3), and conducting TCLP tests AFTER it is diluted with grout will offer a false regulatory determination as to appropriate final disposition of the waste as required in RCRA (Waste Analysis and Trial Test Requirements 40 CFR 265.200). This is a crucial issue given IDEQ acknowledgment that the RWMC is NOT a RCRA permitted landfill. Additionally, studies on grout's ability to maintain its containment integrity over the toxic live of the waste has shown definitively that it cannot. (2)
3. The IDEQ Fact Sheet [page 2] also notes: "If the treated waste fails to meet the Land Disposal Restrictions (LDR) standard, the container will be sent to a permitted treatment, storage and disposal facility (TSDF)."
Again, IDEQ fails to acknowledge where this mystery permitted TSDF is located. Is the INTEC CERCLA Disposal Facility (ICDF) landfill being considered? If so the same regulatory issues discussed in Numbers 1 and 2 above most defiantly apply. The ICDF waste acceptance criteria (WAC) cannot accept mixed high-level, TRU, or Greater Than Class C low-level waste. Specifically, the ICDF is managed under the Federal Facility Compliance Act/ Consent Order FFCA/CO CERCLA cleanup program that is less restrictive than a fully RCRA permitted hazardous waste dump because it is based on risk analysis that utilizes grossly inaccurate contaminate fate and transport assumptions. DOE specifically sited the ICDF immediately adjacent to INTC in order to justify its inclusion in the less restrictive CERCLA cleanup program and completely ignoring the fact that it is in a flood plain and has dozens of underlying lava tubes capable of fast contaminate transport. (3)
4. The most egregious IDEQ error is the agency's failure to acknowledge that the VES-SFE-106 tank and associated ancillary equipment may contain mixed hazardous high-level, and transuranic radioactive waste. Therefore, none of the disposal options in the closure plan are legally applicable under Nuclear Regulatory Commission or RCRA standards. (4)
5. IDEQ failed to acknowledge that VES-SFE-106 tank relationship to CPP-69 (SFE-20) remedial action in CPP-648/642 that according to previous multi-agency reports notes: "A preliminary investigation conducted in 1984 indicated that the tank liquid and sludge contained elevated levels of Cs-137, Cs-134, Co-60, Sr-90, and isotopes of europium, plutonium, and uranium. Previous spills within the tank vault and pump pit contained similar contaminants." [emphasis added] (5) Both SFE-106 and SFE-20 received the basically the same waste stream from CPP-603 SNF storage basins.
6. A credible argument can be made that the sediments in these subject VES-SFE-106 tank are indeed high-level waste given the fact that they received CPP-603 storage basin waste. CPP-603 is undergoing closure for among other reasons, spent nuclear fuel (SNF) was literally corroding out of "baskets" and falling to the floor of the pool. SNF waste classification as a high-level waste is not changed if its present form is debris/sludge at the bottom of CPP-603 storage basins. Therefore any debris/sludge pumped out of CPP-603 basin to CPP-648's VES-SFE-106 must be considered mixed high-level waste and managed/disposed appropriately under relevant RCRA/NRC statutes (40 CFR 191.24 Disposal Standards).
DOE/ID claims that although VES-SFE-106 is being closed under RCRA, any residual waste in the tank will be managed/disposed under the less restrictive CERCLA process. (6) This a blatant procedural "slight-of-hand" attempt to avoid the more restrictive RCRA requirements that would otherwise be applied in a RCRA tank closure plan (40 CFR 265.197). Is this a RCRA closure plan or not? If it is then all elements (including residual tank waste) of the process must come under RCRA regulations (Subpart J Tank Systems 40 CFR 265.190). The public can have little confidence in CERCLA cleanup process when the waste characterization data on VES-SFE-106 is not readily available to the public.
EDI and David McCoy therefore request that the comment period be extended 60 days to allow the public to make informational requests to the relevant agencies on waste characterization data and other issues that are crucial to any informed public comments/decisions and to provide public hearings on the closure plan.
Chuck Broscious, Executive Director
Environmental Defense Institute
PO Box 220 Troy, ID 83871-0220
David B. McCoy
2940 Redbarn Lane, Idaho Falls, ID 83404
See EDI website for July 11, 2003 Comment to Regulators