July 24, 2023
Staff Accomplishment

Waste Management Symposia Honors Environmental Remediation and Waste Processing Research

‘Paper of Note’ and ‘Superior Paper’ Awards Recognize PNNL Contributions to Advancing Radioactive Waste and Materials Management

Composite image featuring photos of award-winning paper authors Christian Johnson and Inci Demirkanli, and the Waste Management Symposia logo.

A paper about subsurface remediation through the Hanford Site’s 200 West Area pump-and-treat process, authored by PNNL researchers Christian Johnson and Inci Demirkanli, received a “Paper of Note” award at the 2023 Waste Management Symposia.

(Hanford photo courtesy of Department of Energy; photo composite by Shannon Colson | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

The 2023 Waste Management Symposia (WMS) recognized five papers authored and coauthored by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) researchers as “Superior.” In addition, one of the papers received a “Papers of Note” award for excellence in 10 areas ranging from description of a novel approach to technical content being of the highest quality.

WMS is the world’s largest and most prestigious conference on radioactive waste management and related topics. The 2023 event was attended by over 2,000 industry professionals from more than 30 countries, with more than 400 oral presentations on the agenda. This year, PNNL researchers were part of 33 presentations, panel discussions, and posters at the conference. Topics of expertise included community transformations from cleanup to clean energy, Hanford Site tank waste processing, glass and grout waste form development, transportation of microreactors, and groundwater remediation.

John Vienna, laboratory fellow and material scientist, and Christian Johnson, senior development engineer, are lead authors of two papers receiving the “Superior Paper” award, which was established in 2015 for distinguished contributions to the advancement of radioactive waste and radioactive material management.

  • “Approaches and Tools to Assess Pump-and-Treat Performance and Endpoints” – WMS #23091. Authors: Christian Johnson and Inci Demirkanli, PNNL. This award-winning paper focused on using PNNL’s SOCRATES software to provide performance assessments of pump-and-treat cleanup remedies at hydrogeologically complex sites. The software provides data-driven analyses of contaminant concentration trends and other factors that plug into a decision logic framework for determining the best supported outcomes of technical decisions at environmental sites. 
  • “High-Level Waste Glass Processing over Broad Range of Alternative Feed Compositions”
    John Vienna
    John Vienna (Photo by Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)
    – WMS #23559. Authors: John Vienna, Xiaonan Lu, Pavel Ferkl, Jose Marcial, Matthew Fountain, PNNL; Michaela Trenidad, Robert Hanson, Bechtel National; Michael Britton, Laura Cree, Washington River Protection Solutions; Wahed Abdul, Department of Energy. This study evaluated the potential process rates of the High-Level Waste Facility at the Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant using alternative feeds of wastes expected from each tank. The team looked at extreme options of minimal pretreatment and undissolved solid wastes, then used preliminary glass models to instantaneously estimate how much glass would need to be produced to encase the radioactive waste.

In addition, “Superior Paper” distinction was awarded to the following papers where PNNL researchers were coauthors:

  • “Tools to Support Informed Participation in Consent-based Siting of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Waste” – WMS #23276. Authors: Mark Abkowitz, Vanderbilt University; Robert Claypool, Kanini Software Solutions; Sara Hogan, Juan Uribe, Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy; Natalia Saraeva, Erica Bickford, Department of Energy; Steven Maheras, PNNL
  • “Thermal Analysis of Aged Nitric Acid-soaked Kitty Litter in TRU Waste Drums” – WMS #23370. Authors: Michael Hobbs, Michael Kaneshige, David Rosenberg, Sandia National Laboratories; Phillip Britt, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Michael Minette, Jon Schwantes, PNNL; Jessica Mintz, Audrey Williams, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Frank Pennebaker, Robert Pierce, Savannah River National Laboratory; David Hobbs, retired consultant
  • “The DOE-EM ALTEMIS Program: Innovative Approaches to Improve the Efficacy of Monitoring Systems for Complex Radioactive Groundwater Plumes” – WMS #23439. Authors: Carol Eddy-Delik, Hansell Gonzalez Raymat, Thomas Danielson, Emily Fabricatore, Savannah River National Laboratory; Haruko Wainwright, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brian Quiter, Zexuan Xu, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Tim Johnson, PNNL; Miles Denham, Panoramic Environmental Consulting
Illustration showing layers of the subsurface
Suite Of Comprehensive Rapid Analysis Tools for Environmental Sites (SOCRATES) includes web-based visualization tools to support subsurface remediation monitoring and managing decisions. The seven modules are managed to NQA-1 standards. (Illustration by Delphine Appriou | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

WMS issued a total of 18 “Papers of Note” awards, which the reviewers base on the paper alone, not the presentation, with only a few selected per conference track. Johnson and Demirkanli received a Paper of Note Award for the Environmental Remediation Track 7, “Approaches and Tools to Assess Pump-and-Treat Performance and Endpoints.”

PNNL’s scientific and technical expertise has contributed to advancing the Hanford environmental management mission since the 1960s, including helping develop the waste treatment processes at Hanford, Savannah River, and West Valley and providing the technical foundations for remediation across the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management complex to protect human and environmental health.