RICHLAND, Wash. – EM Office of River Protection (ORP) contractor Bechtel National, Inc. (BNI) is hiring and training dozens of laboratory and radiological technicians to prepare for cold commissioning of Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, when operators will run a non-radioactive waste simulant through the plant to ensure systems are working properly.
The first class of 12 new laboratory technicians is in training. They join chemists hired last year and together will be responsible for analyzing approximately 3,000 samples of tank waste at the plant’s Analytical Laboratory each year to support Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) operations. DFLAW is a system of interdependent projects and infrastructure improvements, managed and highly integrated as a program, that must operate together to vitrify, or immobilize within glass, Hanford tank waste.
“The waste in the tanks is very complex, and each batch of waste fed to the plant’s Low-Activity Waste Facility must be sampled and analyzed to ensure the vitrified end product meets regulatory standards,” said Mat Irwin, ORP deputy assistant manager for the plant.
Fourteen lab spaces will be used to conduct analyses of the elements within the waste, as well as determine physical and chemical properties of waste. The results will determine the type and amount of glass-forming materials that will be mixed with batches of tank waste during vitrification. Samples will also be taken throughout the vitrification process to confirm the plant is producing high-quality glass.
Last month, EM and BNI declared the lab “ready to operate” after safely constructing and testing all systems in the laboratory. The class of 12 new technicians is the latest wave of new hires as the plant transitions to commissioning work prior to operations.
“We expect to have 45 staff working 24/7 shifts in the Analytical Laboratory when DFLAW operations begin,” said Valerie McCain, Bechtel senior vice president and project director. “A second set of 12 lab technicians and 20 radiological technicians will be hired later this spring for commissioning and operations roles.”