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Chemists Kay Keltner, left, and Jaime Edwards are part of a team at Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant that is integrating scientific instruments inside the plant’s Analytical Laboratory.
Chemists Kay Keltner, left, and Jaime Edwards are part of a team at Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant that is integrating scientific instruments inside the plant’s Analytical Laboratory.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Workers recently finished start-up testing at the Analytical Laboratory in Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP), marking the first nuclear facility in the tank waste treatment complex to reach that point prior to moving into the commissioning phase for operations.

The Analytical Laboratory is a key part of the system that will be used to treat millions of gallons of waste from Hanford’s underground tanks through the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste approach. Moving these facilities from the construction phase to commissioning is one of EM’s priorities for 2020.

The plant’s commissioning team will now ensure workers are trained, systems and equipment are operational, and written procedures are in hand to support future laboratory operations.

“This is a significant accomplishment for Hanford cleanup,” said Tom Fletcher, EM WTP federal project director. “The laboratory is critical to making sure tank waste is safely encased in glass and meets requirements for disposal. Our team is continuing to deliver significant progress.”

The laboratory’s key function is to determine the correct glass formulation “recipe” for each incoming batch of waste and confirm that vitrified glass produced by the Low-Activity Waste Facility meets regulatory requirements and standards.

During operations to treat tank waste using the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste approach, laboratory chemists and technicians will analyze approximately 3,000 samples each year. Samples will also be taken throughout the vitrification process to confirm production of a high-quality glass product and good process controls.

“Our entire workforce contributed to safely handing over the Analytical Laboratory systems from startup to commissioning,” said Valerie McCain, principal vice president and WTP project director with Bechtel National, Inc., EM’s WTP contractor. “Next, our workforce, along with teams of chemists and technicians, will integrate the training, systems, scientific instruments, and procedures needed to prepare the laboratory to support the treatment of low-activity waste.”

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