RICHLAND, Wash. – A startup crew recently operated a hoist that will be used to lift containers of waste turned into glass weighing about 7 tons each for the first time since opening an annex to the Hanford Site’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility last summer.
The operators had remotely connected to the hoist before operating it from the control room annex in the LAW Facility, marking continued progress in EM’s Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program to treat Hanford tank waste.
“You can feel the pace of operations getting quicker, as systems that have been under construction for so long are coming online,” said Jason Young, EM WTP federal program manager. “Treating tank waste is complex and multifaceted, and requires a sustained collective commitment to excellence and teamwork. Getting the transfer hoist operational is one more step toward success.”
In the annex, technicians for Bechtel National, Inc. subcontractor Waste Treatment Completion Company (WTCC) have been testing equipment in the LAW Facility and bringing systems online, in order to safely turn radioactive tank waste into glass in a process called vitrification by the end of 2023.
During operations, the 10-ton hoist will operate behind a shield door. Employees will operate the hoist remotely from the LAW Facility control room while viewing through a series of cameras and monitors.
“Movement of the transfer hoist is a great achievement for the project and a major step in the ongoing progress towards vitrifying waste,” said Julian Leam, WTCC senior mechanical handling test engineer. “Making ‘first contact’ was an exciting moment and gives us confidence to move through the rest of the handling systems that will move stainless steel containers through the LAW Facility to be filled with vitrified waste.”
In the LAW Facility, low-activity waste will be mixed with silica and other glass-forming materials. The mixture will be fed into the LAW Facility’s two 300-ton melters and heated to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit. The glass mixture will then be poured into containers that are 4 feet in diameter, 7 feet tall, and weigh about 7 tons when filled.