The first building on the Hanford vitrification plant campus is ready to start operating.
A permanent power supply has been connected to Building 87, the primary electrical switchgear building at the site.
It is one of about 22 support facilities on the 65-acre campus that will support the four main buildings where up to 56 million gallons of radioactive and hazardous chemical waste will be turned into a stable glass form for disposal.
The switchgear building takes in power to be distributed to the rest of the vitrification plant.
“Energization of Building 87 represents the transition from temporary construction-phase utilities to permanent utilities that will operate the vit plant,” said Peggy McCullough, Bechtel National project director for the Department of Energy project.
The pace of our construction, start-up and commissioning will increase considerably over the next few years.
Peggy McCullough, Bechtel project director
DOE is working toward a goal of starting to glassify low-activity radioactive waste in 2022, with handling and treatment of high-level radioactive waste at the plant delayed as technical issues are resolved.
“The pace of our construction, startup and commissioning will increase considerably over the next few years,” McCullough said.
The vitrification plant’s four main facilities and support facilities, like the main electrical switchgear building, have been using temporary power so far during construction.
System testing still must be done on the facilities that the main switchgear building will serve before it can start distributing electricity.
As the remaining construction for the plant’s infrastructure facilities is completed, they also will be tested and will then be provided additional permanent utilities, such as water, compressed air and steam.
Initially, it will operate the plant’s Low Activity Waste Facility and Analytical Laboratory.
The Analytical Laboratory is 95 percent complete, and construction of the Low Activity Waste Facility is expected to be completed in mid-2018, according to Bechtel.
DOE officials said they were pleased with the progress at the plant.