Consensus Report

Review of the Final Draft Analysis of Supplemental Treatment Approaches of Low-Activity Waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation: Review #3 (2019)

Each report is produced by a committee of experts selected by the Academy to address a particular statement of task and is subject to a rigorous, independent peer review; while the reports represent views of the committee, they also are endorsed by the Academy. Learn more on our expert consensus reports.

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State, which produced about two-thirds of the U.S. plutonium stockpile for nuclear weapons between 1944 and 1987, is the nation's largest and most complex nuclear cleanup challenge. The waste is chemically complex and diverse, which makes it difficult to manage and dispose of safely. To inform its decisions about how to immobilize portions of the waste, and at the request of Congress, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) commissioned a report from a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) to assess three options: vitrification, grouting, and fluidized bed steam reforming.

Section 3134 of the National Defense Authorization Act of FY2017 mandates the National Academies to perform a concurrent and parallel review of the FFRDC's analysis of approaches for supplemental treatment of low-activity waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. In addition, Congress has tasked the National Academies committee with soliciting public comment from stakeholders and interested members of the public for the final review.

The National Academies review concludes that, while the FFRDC report provides useful steps forward in assessing the options, it does not yet provide a complete technical basis needed to support a final decision on a treatment approach, nor does it clearly lay out a framework of decisions to be made. The review recommends that the FFRDC report should be used as a pilot for a full comparative analysis, should provide direct comparisons of alternatives, and should consider parallel approaches.

The National Academies will be accepting public comments through the on-line submission form below. Please keep remarks relevant to the National Academies committee's review report and/or the FFRDC's final draft report. Comments may address issues such as treatment technologies for the low-activity waste, disposal sites, cost, schedules, risks, or other topics relevant to the two reports.