Hanford workers have freed up enough tank space in the nuclear reservation’s sturdiest underground tanks for 525,000 gallons of radioactive waste.
The work to evaporate liquid waste makes valuable space available to continue emptying waste from older, leak-prone single-shell tanks into the 27 double shell tanks in service at the site.
The newly available space is equivalent to about half of a double-shell tank.
Contractor Washington River Protection Solutions used Hanford’s 242-A Evaporator to reduce the volume of waste by 210,000 gallons in the first two weeks of July. An evaporator campaign that ended Friday freed up 315,000 gallons of space.
The evaporator heats liquid waste under vacuum pressure to boiling. The vapor from the waste is captured, condensed, filtered and sent to Hanford’s Effluent Treatment Facility for treatment and disposal. The remaining concentrated waste is returned to a double-shell tank.
Monitoring was done during operation of the evaporator facility to check for chemical vapors associated with tank waste, with no levels of concern detected, said Mark Lindholm, president of Washington River Protection Solutions, in a message to employees.
A new 242-A Evaporator exhaust stack was installed before the evaporator operated this summer to help protect workers from vapor exposure. It raises the discharge point by 48 feet to a height of 111 feet.
The leadership of the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council worked with the contractor to develop the industrial hygiene strategy to protect workers from chemical vapors during operation of the evaporator.