RICHLAND, Wash. – As EM Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) prepares for the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program to begin by the end of 2023, components are being sought now to support upcoming commissioning operations.
Those components include engineered stainless-steel containers, which will hold vitrified waste for safe long-term storage, and a spare melter for the WTP. Vitrified waste is waste mixed with molten glass.
“As we continue to transition the Hanford Site’s operational pace to support 24/7 operations, having the tools in place supports that effort,” said Tom Fletcher, the WTP federal project director. “Over the next several years, Hanford will undergo some dynamic changes and this is one more positive step in that direction.”
WTP contractor Bechtel National, Inc. (BNI) is purchasing the 7-foot-tall, 4-foot-wide containers that will be filled with molten glass mixed with simulated and real radioactive waste during WTP commissioning. BNI is also purchasing the melter that will be on standby for when the current melters reach the ends of their service lives.
The containers will begin to arrive later this year, and the spare melter is targeted for delivery in the summer of 2021. The total cost of the new equipment is nearly $37.8 million.
“These specially engineered stainless-steel containers and the spare melter are critical to our ability to complete hot commissioning in just a few years,” said Valerie McCain, a BNI principal vice president and WTP project director.
WTP’s Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility is integral to the DFLAW program. The LAW Facility already contains two installed melters that will heat tank waste and glass-forming materials to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit – the process of vitrification – before the mixture is poured into the containers for safe long-term storage. During operations, the LAW Facility will treat about 1.75 million gallons of tank waste per year.
LAW Facility construction is substantially complete; systems startup testing is well underway and the computerized control room is operational and staffed 24/7. Construction of the Analytical Laboratory and plant-wide utilities infrastructure is finished, and startup testing is nearing completion.