The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) have reached a settlement over DOE’s failure to meet a critical September 2014 Tri-Party Agreement milestone for beginning sludge removal from K West Basin.
The settlement includes an updated achievable and enforceable timetable for beginning and completing sludge removal from the Basin.
According to Rick Albright, Director of EPA’s Superfund cleanup program in Seattle, the Agency is looking forward to seeing real progress on the K Basin cleanup.
Under the terms of the settlement, 10 other associated 100 K Area cleanup milestones affected by the delay in the start of sludge removal are being extended. A new milestone for completing installation of sludge transfer equipment has also been added.
The new milestone date for starting sludge removal is September 30, 2018. Sludge removal must now be completed by December 31, 2019. Other milestones that have been extended include the milestone to complete deactivation, demolition and removal of the K West Basin by 2023 and to complete all response actions in the K Area by 2024.
The 100 K Area is located along the Columbia River, and is one of six areas where plutonium production reactors operated during the Cold War. K East and K West Reactors operated in the 100 K Area.
Radioactive sludge, a result of corrosion on spent fuel stored in the basins for decades, has been consolidated in underwater storage containers in the K West Basin, with approximately 35 cubic yards of sludge remaining for removal.