August 23, 2012

Tank Waste Feed Delivery System Readiness at the Hanford Site

The Department of Energy (Department) made progress in completing the waste feed delivery system to support operations of the Waste Treatment Plant (WTP).  We found that the Department had completed a number of waste feed delivery subprojects earlier than planned and was on track to complete other critical path activities.  We noted, however, that a number of challenges remain for completing the construction and operation of the waste feed delivery system.  Specifically, the Waste Acceptance Criteria (WAC) that defines the specific WTP waste feed criteria and associated controls had not yet been finalized.  Uncertainties with tank waste mixing and sampling could also impact the delivery of waste to the WTP.  The Department was aware of these problems and told us that it had plans and strategies in place to mitigate the associated risks.  The Department's ongoing actions to address risks with the WAC and tank waste feed and characterization are proactive.  However, given the importance of treating, immobilizing and disposing of hazardous and highly radioactive waste, we made several suggestions to the Manager, Office of River Protection concerning areas that should be closely monitored.

Topic: Environmental Cleanup