Bechtel National workers have finished placing refractory in the two 300-ton melters at the Hanford vitrification plant’s Low Activity Waste Facility.
Refractory is the fire- and heat-resistant brick that lines the inside of the melters, which will heat liquid radioactive waste and glass-forming materials to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The waste will come from Hanford’s underground storage tanks holding 56 million gallons of waste left from the past production of weapons plutonium.
The molten slurry in the melters will be poured into containers, where it will be allowed to cool and solidify. The containers will be buried at a lined Hanford landfill.
The Low Activity Waste Facility contains two melters with the capacity to fill four and a half waste canisters per day after the facility begins glassifying waste. Each container is 7 feet tall and 4 feet in diameter and will hold seven tons of glass.
Work still must be done to complete refractory placement in the melter lids, then place the lids on the melters.
The waste processing melters, considered the heart of the waste vitrification process, will be the largest in the world once the facility is finished.