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Adding a heavy liquid to float waste in a Hanford tank so it could be pumped out was the most challenging step in preparing the tank to support 24/7 operations at a nearby facility that will start turning the waste into glass by the end of 2023.
Adding a heavy liquid to float waste in a Hanford tank so it could be pumped out was the most challenging step in preparing the tank to support 24/7 operations at a nearby facility that will start turning the waste into glass by the end of 2023.

RICHLAND, Wash. – An EM Hanford Site waste tank has been repurposed in support of the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program set to begin treating tank waste by the end of 2023.

Waste Tank AP-106 was emptied so that it can hold material bound for the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility at the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant.

The 1.1-million-gallon tank will be used to receive waste that has been processed to remove radioactive cesium and solids. That “pretreated” waste in Tank AP-106 will then be transferred directly to the LAW Facility to be vitrified, a process in which the waste is turned into glass, and placed into shielded containers for disposal at the Integrated Disposal Facility on the Hanford Site.

“Preparing Tank AP-106 for its ‘waste-feed’ mission is a significant step forward in our transformation to a site that is operating around-the-clock to treat tank waste,” said Dusty Stewart, EM program manager for the Hanford tanks. “By the time the Low-Activity Waste Facility starts operating, we plan to have enough pretreated waste in this tank to support a year’s worth of vitrification.”

Removing the initial waste from the tank was not as easy as simply pumping the waste out, as the pump does not reach to the bottom of the tank. In several steps, 40,000 gallons of a heavy liquid were inserted under the waste in the tank to float the waste up to the level of the pump.

“It was technically difficult, but the team did it safely and efficiently,” said Ben Gallaher of Washington River Protection Solutions, the Hanford Site tank farm contractor. “We will be taking the lessons learned here as we continue the momentum of cleaning up the Columbia River corridor.

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