Aug. 13, 2019
Since 2009, ORISE has supported the U.S. Department of Energy’s cleanup and decommissioning project at its Separations Process Research Unit (SPRU). SPRU, located in Niskayuna, N.Y., operated as a pilot facility to research the chemical separation of plutonium and uranium from irradiated reactor fuel. After successful development of the reduction oxidation and plutonium uranium extraction processes, production-scale operations began at Hanford and Savannah River sites. With its research mission complete, decommissioning activities of the SPRU facilities began in October of 1953 and continued through the 1990s; however, the “final push” for remediation and site closure started in 2007.
In 2009, ORISE initiated independent verification services at the facility, which included performing cleanup verification surveys and collecting more than 500 samples for laboratory analysis. ORISE was instrumental in providing officials at DOE-SPRU with the information they needed to assess the magnitude and extent of the contamination and overall release of the impacted areas. The majority of the decommissioning process focused on the demolition of the process Buildings G2 and H2, of which ORISE performed verification surveys for DOE.
June 2019 marked a significant milestone in the project with the completion of verification field activities of the remaining soils and structures at SPRU, making it one step closer to ending one of ORISE’s longest running verification projects.
The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) asset that is dedicated to enabling critical scientific, research, and health initiatives of the department and its laboratory system by providing world class expertise in STEM workforce development, scientific and technical reviews, and the evaluation of radiation exposure and environmental contamination.
ORISE is managed by ORAU, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, for DOE’s Office of Science. The single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, the Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.osti.gov.