Fluoride Action Network

Fluorine leak at the Molten Salt Reactor

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel (Tennessee) | October 3rd, 2007 | By Frank Munger
Industry type: Nuclear Industry

The government’s toxic-waste incinerator in Oak Ridge burned about 1.4 million pounds of waste in fiscal 2007, which concluded Sept. 30.

The incinerator will be shut down soon for its annual maintenance period.

Dennis Hill of Bechtel Jacobs Co., the Department of Energy’s cleanup manager, said the plan is to shut down the incinerator until early January to reline the kiln and perform other checks and repairs.

“It’s mostly preventive maintenance,” Hill said.

Bechtel Jacobs operates the federal facility that burns so-called mixed waste, which contains both radioactive elements and hazardous chemicals – such as polychlorinated biphenyls. Hill said the waste treated in 2007 was the highest total since 1999.

DOE has indicated it plans to shut down the incinerator at the end of 2009, but that date isn’t firm. The federal agency previously extended the Oak Ridge incinerator’s lifetime to provide a treatment option for other cleanup sites around the country.


On another cleanup front, Bechtel Jacobs has approval to resume uranium removal activities at the Molten Salt Reactor.

Hill said the plan is to restart that work by the middle of this month. Most operations have been on hold at the old reactor since May 2006 because of a series of problems, including a fluorine leak.

The plan is to remove all of the uranium-233, a fissile material of potential use in nuclear weapons, from the reactor site and transport it to Building 3019-A at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for safekeeping.

That work is to be completed by mid-February, Hill said.