PermaFix Northwest could receive four tanker truck shipments of contaminated Hanford waste water a week if its plans to add an evaporation system to its Richland plant are approved, said General Manager Richard Grondin.
The trucks would travel the same route from Hanford now used for contaminated debris sent to PermaFix, including 12 miles of public roads mostly across Hanford but with the last 1.5 miles in north Richland in an area that is mostly industrial.
Shipments of liquid waste are not the same as shipments of solid waste, Grondin agreed, echoing comments made at a public meeting Wednesday evening in Richland.
The meeting was an early step toward getting Washington State Department of Ecology permit approval for the project.
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Grondin said the Hanford "liquid that would come to us would have very low contamination."
Contamination would include minimal amounts of low-level radioactive waste, metals and organics.
The shipments would meet Department of Transportation requirements and would not require road closures, he said.
He anticipates receiving contaminated waste water from Hanford for possibly three or four years and would look for contaminated waste water shipments from other sources to help cover PermaFix's investment in new treatment capabilities longer term.
The Effluent Treatment Facility (ETF) in central Hanford has been used to treat up to 28 million gallons of contaminated waste water a year. However, treatment operations are on hold there until a heat exchanger can be replaced, said Department of Energy spokesman Geoff Tyree.
The state said at the meeting that a crack in the equipment there was fixed at least a year ago but another crack developed and it was shut down several months ago.
"The department plans to continue operating ETF for the long term, and repairing the heat exchanger in the next year or so will put it back into service," Tyree said.
DOE plans to use the plant to treat secondary waste from the vitrification plant, and it will be upgraded over the next few years to prepare for that.
Having a facility at PermaFix to provide additional waste water treatment will give DOE flexibility should it need the capacity during long-term maintenance work, during upgrades or for other reasons, Tyree said.
Although the Effluent Treatment Facility is not treating waste water now, waste water continues to be stored in the Liquid Effluent Retention Facility, designed to hold 23 million gallons of liquid.
The waste water treated at the Hanford facility and potentially at PermaFix includes liquid collected at the bottom of lined disposal trenches and landfills for radioactive and chemical waste.
It also could include samples collected of contaminated groundwater and some contaminated water from the Hanford 242-A Evaporator, which is used to reduce the volume of high-level radioactive waste.
The PermaFix facility would not be used for the actual tank waste.
PermaFix would add two evaporators to its Richland plant on Battelle Boulevard and also add storage tanks that together would have no more than 40,000 gallons of waste water at a time.
Trucks would drive inside the building that houses the evaporators to unload liquid waste to keep it contained within the building in case of a spill.
The waste water from Hanford would be reduced by at least 95 percent and the remaining brine would be mixed with grout and returned to Hanford, Grondin said.
PermaFix would like to have the evaporator ready to operate by the end of 2015 and expects to add four to six employees to the 53 it now has.
Comments on the project may be sent to the state at NWP@ecy.wa.gov.
-- Annette Cary: 509-582-1533; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @HanfordNews