Consensus Report

Review of the Analysis of Supplemental Treatment Approaches of Low-Activity Waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation: Review #1 (2018)

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 U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Environmental Management is responsible for cleaning up the 56 million gallons of radioactive waste from plutonium production stored in 177 large tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. A waste treatment plant under construction will have the capacity to convert all of the high-level radioactive waste and at least one-third of the low-activity radioactive waste into a glass form for long-term storage. Questions remain about the best method to concurrently treat the remaining two-thirds of the low-activity waste, known as "supplemental low-activity waste." Under direction from Congress, DOE set up a contract with a national laboratories' team of experts for an analysis of supplemental treatment options and a review of that analysis at critical points in its development by an expert committee of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. This is the first of four National Academies' reviews. Issues examined include the proposed risk assessment methodologies; expected costs, scheduling, and regulatory compliance; key information and data sources being used; the proposed waste conditioning and supplemental treatment approaches; and the nature of comments and concerns from stakeholders and the public.