The last major piece of equipment for the Hanford vitrification plant’s Low Activity Waste Facility has arrived at the plant’s campus.
Getting the 90-foot-tall, 79,200-square-foot building outfitted is a key step toward starting to turn some of Hanford’s tank waste into a stable glass form for disposal as soon as 2022. The waste is left from the past production of plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program.
Plans call for separating some low-activity radioactive material from the 56 million gallons of waste now held in underground tanks and treating it for disposal as work continues on parts of the plant that will handle high-level radioactive waste.
Technical issues have delayed construction on part of the High Level Waste Facility and the Pretreatment Facility.
Never miss a local story.
Significant progress was made on the Low Activity Waste Facility over the last year.
Construction was completed on two 300-ton melters — the largest in the world — which will form the heart of the vitrification process. Waste and glass forming materials will be heated together to 2,100 degrees, and the molten material poured into containers to cool and harden into a stable glass form.
28,500 cubic yards of concrete at the Low Activity Waste Facility
6,200 tons of structural steel at the Low Activity Waste Facility
843,000 feet of electrical cable
103,000 linear feet of piping
The exhaust from the waste glass melters will be treated to remove contaminants from the offgas to ensure it is safe to release into the air.
Two of the three major components of the offgas system arrived at the vitrification plant in the summer.
Earlier this week, the final component, a 19-ton caustic scrubber, arrived. Insulation was installed on the underside of the scrubber, preparing it to be moved into the building.
A crane lowered it through a roof hatch with workers hand-maneuvering it into place within the Low Activity Waste Facility.
“Receipt of the caustic scrubber is a major turning point in construction of the LAW Facility,” said Kim Irwin, Bechtel National area project manager for the facility, in a statement.
It will allow completion of the interior construction of the building. Construction of the facility is scheduled to be completed in 2018.
Vitrification plant workers still need to connect the 29-foot-tall, 6-foot-diameter caustic scrubber to the rest of the offgas treatment system.
Work will continue into the new year to finish installing insulation and internal components, as well as make hundreds of wiring, piping and other connections within the offgas treatment system.
The caustic scrubber was manufactured by Premier Technology of Blackfoot, Idaho.