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Savannah River Nuclear Solutions wins award for geosynthetic coal ash project in South Carolina

Case Studies | October 22, 2018 | By:

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) received the Project Management Institute (PMI) Award for Project Excellence at the PMI Professional Awards Gala held in Los Angeles, Calif. in October for work completed at the Savannah River Site (SRS) D-Area Ash Basin Project in South Carolina.

The prestigious award recognizes global, large and complex projects that deliver superior performance of project management practices, superior organizational results and positive impacts on society.

SRNS was selected for the Award for Project Excellence for the first of two phases of work at the SRS D-Area Ash Basin, which was completed ahead of schedule and significantly under budget thanks to exemplary project management strategy and application of sound technical innovation.

The D-Area Ash Basin project is comprised of a two-phased approach to address ash basins that were utilized to manage this material from the D-Area Powerhouse, which provided steam and electricity essential to fulfilling SRS missions for 59 years.

“When the D-Area Powerhouse closed in 2012, the cleanup of the ash basins was projected for closure. SRNS supported federal regulators to define a cleanup plan that was respectful of federal tax dollars and given a reasonable timeframe for completion, while also achieving cleanup goals and adherence to regulatory compliance,” said Stuart MacVean, SRNS president and CEO.

After negotiations among SRS regulators including, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy (DOE)-Savannah River, a phased approach spanning five years and with an estimated cost of more than $70 million (both phases) was implemented to perform the cleanup of the ash basins.

D Area Ash Basin Construction Progress. Photograph courtesy Savannah River Nuclear Solutions


The first phase of the cleanup project ($23.8 million) consisted of consolidating 131,000 cubic yards (100,000 m2) of ash and dirt from a 15-acre (6-ha) basin into an adjacent ash landfill. This basin held 36 million gallons (136 million L) of water that had to be properly managed to meet regulatory discharge requirements. To achieve closure, SRNS placed 926,540 square feet (282,409 m2) of both a geosynthetic clay liner and a geosynthetic drainage layer, covering approximately 21.5 acres (8.7 ha), over the consolidated ash and dirt into a protected landfill. The geosynthetic covers provide protection from rainwater intrusion, which prevents migration of ash into the environment.

“Utilizing the cleanup approach agreed upon by SRS regulators and DOE, SRNS was able to capitalize on its exemplary project management expertise to complete the first phase of the D-Area Ash Basin Project at a cost savings of $300,000 while accelerating the completion date by more than one year,” MacVean said.

Today, the second and final phase of the project is just days away from completion and is anticipated to realize $8.4 million in cost avoidances. If successful, SRNS will have delivered both phases of the project to closure at a total cost avoidance of $8.7 million.

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