Hanford employees installing temporary startup heaters

RICHLAND, Wash. EM crews at the Hanford Site's Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant recently installed 18 temporary startup heaters, one of which is pictured, in the second of two melters in the plant’s Low-Activity Waste Facility. The heaters are installed through ports in the lid of the melter and will raise the melter’s operating temperature to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit — hot enough to sustain a pool of molten glass. Once the operating temperature is achieved and a molten glass pool is established, crews will remove the startup heaters and replace them with bubblers, pieces of equipment that introduce air into the molten glass to circulate it and maintain an even temperature. Hanford contractor Bechtel National Inc. is designing, constructing and commissioning the plant for EM’s Office of River Protection. When complete, the plant will process and stabilize millions of gallons of legacy tank waste using a process known as vitrification, during which the waste will be mixed with glass-forming materials, incorporated into molten glass, and poured into stainless steel containers for safe disposal.