AquaRecycle Marks 1M Gals. of Nuke Wastewater Saved

Posted May 13, 2015 at 5:35 pm

Smoky Mountain Solutions (SMS), a joint venture by two companies focused on providing, cleaning and decontaminating protective equipment used in the nuclear power industry, recently announced that it has recycled 1 million gallons of radiological wastewater through its laundry operations in Oak Ridge, TN.

SMS partner BES Technologies LLC (or BEST) uses a state-of-the-art radiological water-treatment system and reuses over 70% of the water in its process, according to a news release. AquaRecycle, a TRSA associate member, sponsored the achievement award and designed the system. With a local member of Congress, company officials and area business leaders looking on, President Jeff Lebedin presented the award to Brian Quinley, President of SMS during a May 11 ceremony at the plant hosted by SMS. The company includes Omega Technical Services, which provides respirator, laundry, water and other environmental services to the radiological community.

BEST processes soiled garments and equipment used in the nuclear power industry. Each week, 1,500 to 2,000 hazmat suits and respirators – about 4,000-5,000 lbs. – arrive at its facility for cleaning and decontamination. Before they are placed in washer/extractors, the goods are checked for radioactivity levels. The process of recycling the wastewater includes layers of filtering, passing under an ultraviolet light and through activated charcoal. Most of the decontaminated water is reused in subsequent wash cycles. The clothing then is dried in a series of steps. “This is the first recycle system to document and prove the ability to remove radioactive materials in laundry wastewater,” said Lebedin of AquaRecycle. “Breaking 1 million gallons recycled is a huge accomplishment.”

By cleaning and reusing the wastewater, contaminants are kept out of landfills, said Shannon Eaker, chief scientific officer for SMS. The company’s water-recycling process also lowers costs, thus enabling SMS to pass savings on to customers, according to the release.

The May 11 ceremony included remarks by U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. (R-TN).“It’s been a fascinating story to hear how this small business became a very successful business … working with cleaning up nuclear waste and radioactive suits and uniforms,” said Rep. Duncan.

The SMS joint venture began at a kitchen table with half an employee, according to President Brian Quinley. It now employs 25 people.Customers include U.S. Department of Energy and National Nuclear Security Administration sites, as well as private nuclear operations facilities. To learn more, click here and here.