November 07, 2018

Framatome develops and implements high performance repair at Savannah River waste storage site

Framatome and Savannah River Remediation (SRR) successfully completed repair work on a high-level waste evaporator (3H) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina. By designing and using customized components and a specialized inspection and repair technique, Framatome’s team safely cleaned, welded and sealed a contained leak from the evaporator.

“We pride ourselves on efficiently and effectively helping customers overcome complex and technically challenging maintenance operations,” said Craig Ranson, senior vice president of Framatome’s Installed Base Business Unit in North America. “Time and again, these efforts result in the safe, reliable and cost-effective restoration of critical components, as we’ve seen at the Savannah River Site.”

The 3H evaporator is one of two evaporators used in the liquid waste system at SRS. The evaporators play a major role in liquid waste operations by minimizing the amount of dilute liquid waste in SRS waste tanks, making tank space available for continuing liquid waste operations. In February 2016, SRS shut down the evaporator after detecting a leak contained inside a stainless steel-lined concrete cell.

The evaporator repair presented two challenges – high radiation in the area and the hard-to-reach location of the leak – that greatly inhibited the team’s ability to access the area. After removing excess insulation and assessing further, the team built a full-scale model of the evaporator at Framatome’s Technical Training Center, located in Lynchburg, Virginia. This allowed them to design, fabricate and test methods to repair the evaporator.

“This innovative repair demonstrates the role cutting-edge technology can play to help achieve our mission of safely and efficiently operating the site,” said Mark Schmitz, SRR deputy project manager and chief operating officer. “We’re pleased to have worked with Framatome to successfully return the 3H evaporator to service.”

SRS restarted the 3H evaporator in July 2018 following a water test in the vessel.

As part of the DOE industrial complex, SRS is responsible for disposition of nuclear materials, environmental cleanup and nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship. It sits on a 310-square-mile site on the Savannah River near Aiken, South Carolina.

The SRS liquid waste contract is managed by SRR, which is composed of a team of companies led by AECOM with partners Bechtel National, CH2M and BWX Technologies. Critical subcontractors for the contract are Orano, Atkins and AECOM Technical Services.