PROGRESS IN TREATMENT OF A RADIOACTIVE CONDENSATE WASTE Page: 8 of 80
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The low-level waste is of large volume and generally contains less
than 0.01% of the fission products. The radioisotope concentration is
about 10-2 to 10-3 pcuries of beta and gamma emitters per ml. This waste
is mostly condensate and is formed when high-level solutions are concen-
trated in the reprocessing plant and when high-level wastes self boil in
underground tanks. Waste solidification processes also will produce
copious volumes of condensate that will require treatment even though much
effort will be made to suppress radionuclide carryover.
Some condensate problems can be minimized. Reducing chemicals,
such as NaNO2 can be added to boiling, acidic solutions to suppress the
formation of volatile ruthenium tetroxide. Recycle of a highly contaminated
condensate for reevaporation or for dilution of a high-salt content stream
is another possibility; however, use of condensate as a diluent may recycle
trace quantities of troublesome chemicals such as degraded organic material.
Even though condensate treatment requirements will be lowered by such
techniques, a large volume will still have to be decontaminated before the
waste can be released to the environment, and the decontamination must fit
economically into the fuel cycle.
Multiple effect evaporation is one processing technique that can be
used for waste treatment. The success of a reevaporation process is
assured and information is available to predict the cost of the process. The
technique is flexible and simple; the potential of any other treatment process
may be measured against reevaporation. The incentive for developing
alternate processes is primarily economics. Since approximately 10, 000
to 15, 000 gal of condensate are produced per ton of fuel reprocessed by
conventional aqueous processes, appreciable savings can be achieved by
lowered unit processing costs.
Application of ion-exchange technology developed at Hanford and
other Atomic Energy Commission sites appeared to be a method of lowering
unit waste processing costs. Technology developed at Hanford before 1959
on the removal of radioisotopes from waste streams was directed to a
better understanding of the ion-exchange and other processes that occur in
the soils at Hanford. An outgrowth of this work was the discovery that
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Skarpelos, J.M. PROGRESS IN TREATMENT OF A RADIOACTIVE CONDENSATE WASTE, report, October 1, 1963; Richland, Washington. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc866645/m1/8/: accessed April 25, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.