U.S. names new firm to supervise $159.3 million nuclear waste cleanup

By Kathy Kellogg

June 30, 2007

ASHFORD - The next phase of the cleanup at the West Valley Demonstration Project will be conducted by West Valley Environmental Services LLC of Aiken, S.C., the U.S. Department of Energy announced Friday.

West Valley Environmental Services will be paid about $159.3 million through June 30, 2011. This is not the last step in the cleanup. That is being negotiated between state and federal agencies.

The new contractor will perform radioactive waste disposal, decontamination, deactivation and disposition of facilities, and infrastructure/landlord activities.

Bryan Bower, federal project director at West Valley, said Friday that under the new contract, the former Western New York Nuclear Service Center's main process plant will be decontaminated and prepared for demolition. Also, all facilities no longer needed for future operations will be removed, and waste OK'd for acceptance at disposal facilities will be removed.

West Valley Environmental Services comprises Washington Group International, Jacobs Engineering Group, Environmental Chemical Corp. and Parallax Inc. The company will work with the outgoing contractor, West Valley Nuclear Services Co., under a 90- day transition period beginning Sunday. Ju [sic] The state-owned site - where the only U.S. commercial nuclear fuel-reprocessing facility operated - has been the focus of cleanup efforts for more than 30 years.

Ninety percent of the West Valley budget is paid by the federal government. The project will receive $75 million in funding during 2007. The workforce, which has been reduced from 1,200 to about 300 in the past decade, will be determined during the transition period.

In the meantime, a future decommissioning decision will decide the fate of building foundations, high-level waste canisters and waste created by the high-level waste-solidification project, along with two burial grounds containing high- and low-level wastes, underground high-level waste tanks and other types of high-level and low-level wastes in other forms.

During a meeting Wednesday of the advisory West Valley Citizen Task Force, representatives of the site administrator, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), unveiled a proposal to remove controversial issues from consideration in the decommissioning and/or long-term stewardship plan.

Three key areas in the plan are removal of the main process building, remediation of a migrating radioactive plume of underground water containing strontium, and formation of an advisory panel of scientists on issues such as the potential for soil erosion over the next several thousand years.

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