RICHLAND -- After 10 and a half years, the $12.2 billion Hanford vitrification plant is 60 percent complete, by the calculations of Department of Energy contractor Bechtel National.
The milestone includes engineering, procurement, construction and start-up and commissioning-related activities.
“Woohoo!” was the reaction of the regulator for the project, the Washington State Department of Ecology, as summed up by Dan McDonald, the project manager for Hanford waste treatment.
“We’re very pleased with the progress,” he said.
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Hitting the 60-percent mark positions work to continue the transition from the design and build phase of the massive project to the commissioning and operating phase, he said.
“Ecology looks forward to the continued rate of progress, completion of activities and starting up,” he said.
The plant is being built to turn much of the 56 million gallons of radioactive waste held in Hanford’s underground tanks into a stable glass form for disposal. The waste is left from the past chemical processing of irradiated fuel to produce plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program.
“More than 16,000 workers have contributed to this project to date,” said Frank Russo, Bechtel National project director, in a congratulatory memo to employees.
Since construction began in 2001, 213,000 cubic yards of concrete, 18,000 tons of steel and more than 100 miles of piping and conduit have been installed, he said.
Engineering on the vitrification plant is nearly 85 percent complete and workers have completed 58 percent of the procurement work required to supply all permanent plant material and equipment.
“This excellent performance reflects your continuing emphasis on delivering quality work in a safe manner while meeting cost and schedule objectives,” he told workers.
The project hit the halfway point in fall 2009, according to DOE. That marked significant progress after three earlier plans to build a tank waste treatment plant had been terminated, according to Washington state documents.
“We appreciate the diligence and dedication of our work force bringing us one step closer to operations in 2019,” said Dale Knutson, DOE federal project director for the plant.
The latest accomplishment at the plant was issuing the final design for the concrete walls of the Pretreatment Facility, the largest building at the plant.
When complete, the Pretreatment Facility will include 113,000 cubic yards of concrete. It’s being built in six concrete wall elevations, with each elevation as large as 28 feet tall, 460 feet long and four feet thick. The concrete walls will be 109 feet high with steel columns and roof trusses that extend beyond the walls to an overall height of 120 feet, with emission stacks reaching nearly 200 feet high.
The extensive wall design is supported by more than 15,000 pages of calculations and 500 drawings. More than 500 engineers worked on the building’s wall design over several years.
“These are no ordinary walls; they are designed to nuclear-quality standards and must meet strict regulations and requirements that will ensure the integrity and safety of the facility and its equipment,” Russo said in a statement. “Literally, each inch of wall is reviewed and checked multiple times by multiple people.”
Each wall in the Pretreatment Facility includes a complex rebar grid, or “curtain,” that reinforces the strength of the surrounding concrete. Many of the walls also have embedded steel plates that will be used to connect materials and equipment requiring precise placement.
* Annette Cary: 509-582-1533; firstname.lastname@example.org