Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) workers inspect two bulk liquid argon storage tanks that are part of the liquid gas storage system at the WTP Analytical Laboratory.
Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) workers inspect two bulk liquid argon storage tanks that are part of the liquid gas storage system at the WTP Analytical Laboratory.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The first commissioning test package was recently approved for the Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) Analytical Laboratory, marking a significant step in the ongoing EM Office of River Protection (ORP) project transition from startup to commissioning.

Test packages define the steps, work controls, tools and equipment, materials, and hazard control requirements project employees will use when performing tests. This test package, prepared by Bechtel National Inc. (BNI) subcontractor Waste Treatment Completion Company (WTCC), is the first of four to be used to complete commissioning testing of the Analytical Laboratory's gas storage distribution systems, which provide gases such as argon and nitrogen to equipment inside the facility. BNI is ORP's WTP contractor.

“We have been working a long time to get the Waste Treatment Plant to this point,” said Tom Fletcher, ORP federal project director and WTP assistant manager. “The Analytical Lab is a key facility and chemists have begun working in the facility. Getting the myriad systems tested, commissioned, and ready for operations is a significant step in that direction.”

WTCC commissioning manager Ross Hamlett added, “This is exciting progress that indicates the lab is approaching the start of the analytical work it was built for. This approval sets the stage for dozens of future commissioning test packages."

During commissioning, workers complete training, write procedures, and maintain operational facilities to demonstrate capability to prepare for operations.

“It's always a challenge the first time a work process is performed, and the development of this test package required new interfaces and support from multiple organizations," Hamlett said.

Commissioning test packages are developed in advance of the completion of startup testing so when enough systems are handed over, commissioning is ready to begin.

The laboratory is key to the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste program.

The laboratory’s main function is to confirm that glass produced by the Low-Activity Waste vitrification facility meets regulatory requirements and standards. During waste treatment operations, laboratory staff will analyze about 3,000 process samples annually to confirm a high-quality glass product and good process controls. Analyses will also confirm the correct glass-former “recipe” needed to produce a consistent glass form.