In the News

Below are articles and other news published since the last West Valley Citizen Task Force Meeting. They relate to the West Valley Demonstration Project, nuclear waste cleanup or are otherwise relevant or of potential interest to stakeholders interested in the Project. After each Citizen Task Force Meeting, these articles are compiled into a single document and may be found with the meeting materials for that month.

West Valley Employs Video Technology to Improve Waste Tank Inspection 

Office of Environmental Management, March 5, 2024 —

 WEST VALLEY, N.Y. – EM crews recently completed a virtual inspection of an underground tank that once stored liquid waste from spent fuel reprocessing operations at the West Valley Demonstration Project in the 1960s and ‘70s. 

The work is part of an ongoing effort by EM and its West Valley cleanup contractor to beter characterize residual waste, including sludge sampling and analysis. Results of the analyses will help determine disposition alternatives for the remaining content in the tank. 

“Obtaining beter samples is an important part of the characterization process,” said Stephen Bousquet, West Valley assistant director of Project Management. “Beter samples lead to improved characterization, which leads to safer planning and execution. Comprehensive planning combined with solid information leads to a safe and successful outcome.” 

EM crews had retrieved and solidified waste from that tank and two others through a process called vitrification from 1996 to 2002. Over 98% of the curies were removed from the waste tanks and vitrified. A curie is a unit used to measure the intensity of radioactivity in a sample of material. The 278 stainless steel canisters of resulting vitrified waste are being held at a temporary onsite storage pad until a permanent repository is available for their disposal. 

For that vitrification effort, workers had neutralized the waste from the tank recently inspected, known as 8D-4, and blended it with other high-level waste in a second, larger tank called 8D-2. That allowed crews to use Tank 8D-4 to support vitrification efforts. The vessel received condensate and other liquids from vitrification. 

Following vitrification activities, EM crews used the 14,300-gallon Tank 8D-4 to support deactivation of the site’s Vitrification Facility, which EM crews successfully demolished in 2018. The tank currently has about 3,900 gallons of residual liquid waste or sludge from the facility deactivation. 

Although EM had completed initial liquid and sludge sampling from the tank in 2012, an additional archived sludge sample was shipped offsite for analysis last year. Additional samples were needed to beter characterize the tank’s content for future disposition and cleanup. The camera inspection provided additional insight on the liquid level and depth of the sludge, which will help workers obtain beter depth sludge samples for offsite analysis. 

EM acquired a high-definition, radiation-resistant video camera and light assembly used in nuclear and non-nuclear applications. The camera, which also has pan and tilt capabilities, was lowered into the tank with sleeving to minimize camera and cord contamination. Once workers obtained video footage inside the tank, the camera was removed, surveyed as clean and released for future use. 

Three liquid samples were sent offsite for analysis last month. More samples are expected to be dispatched for analysis. 

“Our team continues to use their collective knowledge to find ways to improve processes, planning and execution of challenging work,” said Peggy Loop, manager of Waste and Site Operations for EM’s West Valley cleanup contractor, CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley. “Comprehensive planning improves safety, quality and compliance.” 

Deadline Extended for $3 Billion DOE Contract for West Valley Cleanup, Bidders Get Extra Week 

BNN, March 4, 2024 —

 The Department of Energy extends the proposal submission deadline for the West Valley cleanup contract, emphasizing a competitive and thorough selection process. 

Amidst a flurry of anticipation and strategic planning, bidders vying for a significant Department of Energy (DOE) contract have received a crucial extension. The contract, set to tackle Phase 1B remediation efforts at the West Valley Demonstration Project in New York, now has a revised proposal submission deadline of March 11, previously set for today, March 4. Among the contenders, the Jacobs-led CH2M consortium stands out, highlighting the competitive nature of this procurement. 

Strategic Importance of the Extension 

The deadline extension is not merely a logistical adjustment; it signifies the DOE’s commitment to ensuring a thorough and competitive selection process. This contract, potentially worth up to $3 billion, is pivotal for the comprehensive cleanup of the West Valley site, a project underscored by its complexity and the high stakes involved in terms of environmental impact and public health. Bidders, including the notable Jacobs-led CH2M, now have additional time to refine their proposals, ensuring they meet the DOE’s stringent requirements for efficiency, safety, and innovation. 

Read the full article here.

West Valley Crews Safely Demolish Former Waste Packaging Area

EM Update, February 27, 2024 — An EM team safely demolished a structure at West Valley Demonstration Project used during former spent nuclear fuel reprocessing operations as well as cleanup, including solidification of liquid high‐level waste and deactivation of one of the last major facilities remaining at the site.
“The West Valley Demonstration Project team strives to find solutions to conduct demolition activities in a safe, efficient and deliberate manner,” said Stephen Bousquet, assistant director of West Valley’s Office of Project Management. “They continue to leverage their combined knowledge and expertise to complete the demolition of this major milestone safely and compliantly.”
The crews demolished the 1,000‐square‐foot Waste Reduction and Packaging Area along with an associated dock about 600 square feet in area. Both structures were used to package waste and ship it offsite for disposal.
At one time, a box compactor was used to compact waste inside metal waste boxes to maximize the waste content of the boxes.

Read the full article here.

Ashford board discusses possible home rule resolutions

Springville Journal, February 22, 2024 —

The Ashford Town Board, at its Feb. 14 meeting, held a discussion on the board possibly writing home rule resolutions for the town of Ashford.

“The state seems to continue to want to chip away at home rule,” Supervisor John Pfeffer said. “Part of me feels like we need to stand up at least at the town level and exercise our home rule ability and maybe come up with some resolutions that we send to the state.”

Councilman Bill Heim agreed with Pfeffer on the stance with home rule resolutions. “You are spot on as far as the home rule law. We absolutely let the state shove this stuff down our throat and it’s just not right.”

Pfeffer said he was working on a home rule resolution and encouraged the other board members to propose resolutions as well.

Jason Casper, the new president and general manager at CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley, LLC, gave an update to the board on progress at the West Valley Demonstration Project. With the demolition at the Main Plant Process Building, crews continue to work on demolition on the hot cell, chemical process cell, liquid waste cell tanks and extraction cell #1. Along with the Main Plant, crews also finished demolition of the old guard house and the construction of a new guard house.

Casper also reported on the waste management shipments from the site. 631 intermodals have been generated and 616 have been shipped, with a net weight of 12,203 tons. 39 specialty containers have also been generated and 29 have been shipped to date, with a net weight of 247 tons.

Casper also updated the board on community donations from the past year. Community service donations were given to West Valley Fire District #1 in the amount of $80,000, Bertrand Chaffee Hospital in the amount of $5,000 and Mercy Flight in the amount of $5,000. Last year’s food drive also collected enough food for 10,800 meals, which was delivered by volunteers to nine local food pantries. Other donations included $12,000 in annual community donations, $13,032 to the United Way and over 350 toys collected for Toys for Tots.

In other board news:

– The board approved changing the dates for two upcoming board meetings. The April meeting will be changed to April 9 and the July meeting will be changed to July 17.

The next Ashford Town Board meeting will be Wednesday, March 13 at p.m.

DOE and Industry Team Up to Keep Lights on for America

Energy.gov, February 22, 2024 —

The electrical grid stands as a marvel of modern engineering, intricately designed to transmit power from various sources to end users across vast distances. It tirelessly supplies electricity to buildings, industries, schools, and households, ensuring uninterrupted service around the clock, every day of the year. One of the challenges is the aging grid infrastructure such as transformers—critical components of the power grid. That’s why DOE is partnering with industry and other stakeholders to ensure that our nation’s grid is reliable, resilient, secure, and affordable while meeting all the demands of the 21st century.

Read the full article here.

Upcoming meeting information

The next CTF meeting will be on Wednesday, April 24, 2024 from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Location: Ashford Office Complex, 9030 Route 219, West Valley
On-line webinar: Register here

Agenda coming soon!

For more information

on the West Valley Citizen Task Force, please contact:

Nancy Raca, Facilitator
West Valley Citizen Task Force
c/o Highland Planning
nancy@highland-planning.com