The Hanford vitrification plant has received the first shipment of 87 leaded-glass shield windows that will be used in four buildings of the plant that will process radioactive waste.
The windows will allow operators to safely observe work with radioactive material inside hot cells.
The first shipment of 22 windows is for the Analytical Laboratory. Other windows will be used in the Pretreatment, Low Activity Waste and the High Level Waste facilities.
Each laboratory shield window weighs 7,200 pounds, is 16 inches thick and measures 75 inches wide by 65 inches tall. They have a yellow tint and are made of borosilicate glass and lead.
The windows were manufactured by Hot Cell Services Corp. of Kent.
"The supplier was one of the few manufacturers in the world who could provide these type of windows," said Lori Baker, Bechtel National manager of procurement and subcontracts. "We are fortunate the supplier is so geographically close to the project. Due to the temperature control requirements for the windows, transportation and warehousing are critical elements for material handling."
The windows can withstand extreme high and low temperatures, but they cannot withstand a temperature change of plus or minus five degrees within an hour, she said.
The shield windows will be one of the last items to be placed in the laboratory and will be stored in a controlled environment until they are installed in the fall of 2013. The long lead time on the procurement is necessary because it takes a year to manufacture the windows, according to Bechtel.
The rest of the windows will be delivered in the next two months. Once installed, the windows will go through yearly maintenance and testing.
The $12.2 billion vitrification plant, or Waste Treatment Plant, is being built by the Department of Energy to turn up to 56 million gallons of radioactive waste into a stable glass form for disposal starting in 2019. The waste is left from the past production of plutonium for the nation's nuclear weapons program.