Source: EM Update | Vol. 13, Issue 34; Contributor: Shannon Potter | August 31, 2021

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A view of the contrast between piping that is decades old — the rusted brown pipes in the foreground — and new piping workers are installing in the Liquid and Gaseous Waste Operations system at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The replacements will alleviate the recurring need for maintenance and repairs and ensure the system’s reliability.

EM is replacing extensive piping to extend the life of the Liquid and Gaseous Waste Operations (LGWO) system at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

Replacing the piping and completing other upgrades will alleviate the recurring need for maintenance and repair of the aging infrastructure built many decades ago, and ensure the system’s reliability. Portions of the piping have rust and corrosion that need to be addressed.

LGWO contains two waste treatment systems that collect, treat, and reduce the volume of liquid waste across the laboratory. LGWO encompasses more than 60 facilities and 27 miles of piping that process waste generated from cleanup operations, research and development labs, radiochemical pilot plants, and nuclear reactors.

The $18 million project will replace more than a mile of above-ground piping and valves, making the system more efficient and reliable, helping avoid the possibility of disrupting ongoing ORNL operations.

“This infrastructure has been in operation for decades, providing essential disposition of various wastes generated at the site,” said Nathan Felosi, the ORNL portfolio federal project director at the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management. “Completing this project ensures the important research and cleanup missions at ORNL can continue without incident or interruption.”

UCOR, EM’s prime contractor in Oak Ridge, is leading the effort and coordinating closely with ORNL to ensure LGWO’s reliability. Together, EM and UCOR have conducted engineering evaluations of the systems and supporting infrastructure, and are implementing upgrades based on the results of those studies.

This project is anticipated to be complete within two years and follows other recent investments to upgrade and maintain critical waste treatment infrastructure. EM has identified other near- and long-term actions to maintain safe, reliable operations, such as upgrading LGWO’s digital control system.

A major project involves constructing a new Process Waste Pre-Treatment Facility, which will reduce the need for storage of low-level liquid waste. The new facility will accept that waste directly instead of diverting it to storage tanks, which is the process at the current facility.

Other efforts include building an evaporator that reduces liquid waste volume and replacing a diesel generator that powers pumping stations if power is interrupted.