RICHLAND, Wash. – Deputy Energy Secretary Mark W. Menezes and Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar visited the Hanford Site last week to mark the completion of construction on facilities at the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) needed to start treating radioactive waste from large underground tanks through the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) approach.
“The Department is committed to the shared goal of initiating tank waste treatment at Hanford via DFLAW,” Menezes said. “This progress marks a tremendous leap forward for the Hanford workforce and the Tri-Cities community as we drive closer to a new era of tank waste treatment at Hanford.”
Dabbar noted that a focus on solutions combined with a world-class workforce has led to results for the tank waste mission and beyond.
“The impacts of this DFLAW achievement coupled with the overall progress of the past four years position Hanford for success throughout the decade ahead,” Dabbar said.
All engineering, procurement, and construction has been completed on 17 facilities at the plant that will be used in the DFLAW approach. Through this approach, pretreated waste from Hanford tanks will be piped to the Low-Activity Waste Facility, where it will be vitrified, or immobilized in glass. The other facilities include the Analytical Laboratory, Effluent Management Facility, and 14 support structures consisting of electrical power, backup power, water purification, compressed air, steam, communication and control, and fire water systems.
The 17 facilities are now in the startup testing and commissioning phases to prepare for operations and the next major achievement — heating large melters that will vitrify millions of gallons of low-activity tank waste.
DOE Hanford Manager Brian Vance emphasized the significance of the achievement to the entire Hanford Site.
“As the plant moves into full commissioning, other Hanford contractors continue their drive to prepare for round-the-clock operations by completing projects and infrastructure improvements that must operate with the plant to be successful,” Vance said. “We are moving deliberatively and safely toward treating tank waste and meeting our commitment to continue to protect our workforce, the people of this region, and the environment.”
Valerie McCain, Bechtel National, Inc. senior vice president and project director for WTP, thanked current and former workers for their contributions and presented Menezes and Dabbar with ceremonial keys to signify the turnover of the facilities used for the DFLAW approach from construction to commissioning and startup activities. Members of the Washington congressional delegation, along with Washington State Department of Ecology Nuclear Waste Program Manager David Bowen, congratulated the Hanford workforce as well as the Tri-Cities community via video messages.
View a video recording of the event here.