RICHLAND, Wash. – Testing is underway on the next phase to remove a reactor fuel storage basin near the Columbia River on the Hanford Site.
In June, EM Richland Operations Office contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company (CHPRC) began removing highly radioactive sludge from the water-filled K West Reactor spent fuel storage basin and pumping it into containers for safe storage away from the river. This transfer process should take about a year.
After workers remove the sludge, they will clear away the contaminated filters that once helped clean the water in the one-million-gallon basin during fuel removal operations. Crews are currently testing this process, using the same mockup facility for testing sludge removal equipment.
“Sludge removal, and eventual removal of the filters, are all key steps toward removing the water from the basin and demolishing the basin,” said Mark French, federal project director. “Testing this equipment in a clean environment is critical to ensuring the project’s success.”
To prepare for removing the filters, engineers designed a way to connect the sludge removal equipment to the tanks containing the filters, inject water into those tanks from the top, and pump out the contaminated filters from the bottom.
“We’re making sure the equipment operates as designed, as an integrated system, and is compatible with the sludge removal equipment to ensure safe removal of the filters,” said Eric Erpenbeck, CHPRC test facility manager. “This reduces project risk and improves safety because we know it will work before we deploy it in the basin.”
Once testing is complete, workers will train on the equipment in the test facility before they install equipment in the basin after sludge removal is complete in 2019.