Waste water facilities have been transferred between Hanford Department of Energy offices to support operation of the Hanford tank farm now and the vitrification plant in the future.
The Richland Operations Office, which is responsible for all Hanford work except the tank farms and vit plant, has operated the facilities to store and treat waste water and dispose of treated water. The Office of River Protection (ORP) is responsible for underground tanks holding 56 million gallons of radioactive waste and the vitrification plant being built to treat much of that waste.
“This is a great example of how we are aligning operations at the Hanford Site between both the Richland Office and ORP’s missions to ensure efficient use of facilities and good stewardship of taxpayer money,” said Tom Fletcher, ORP assistant manager for the tank farms, in a statement.
ORP took over operation this week of the Effluent Treatment Facility, the Liquid Effluent Retention Facility and the Treated Effluent Disposal Facility in central Hanford.
About 45 employees of those facilities have transferred from CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Group to Washington River Protection Solutions, which is responsible for waste held in tanks for ORP. CH2M Hill is responsible for groundwater and central Hanford cleanup for the Richland Operations Office.
Some employees took other jobs at CH2M Hill. Washington River Protection Solutions will be hiring to bring the staff for waste water related-work back to about 80 workers.
With the transfer of the facilities comes a need to make some significant upgrades, which will be started this year.
The Effluent Treatment Facility has operated for 20 years, treating water contaminated with low levels of radioactive and chemical waste. It comes primarily from the 242-A Evaporator and Richland Operations Office facilities for groundwater treatment, waste disposal and the K Basins.
The facility can treat up to 28 million gallons of waste water annually, but is not operating now because the heat exchanger needs to be replaced.
Other improvements will need to be made to it to prepare it to receive waste water related to tank waste treatment operations that could start in 2022.
It is expected to be used to treat some waste water collected from the off gas from the melters in the vitrification plant’s Low Activity Waste Facility. It also could be used to treat secondary waste from the proposed Low Activity Waste Treatment System. It is planned to be built outside the vitrification plant to prepare some low-activity radioactive waste for treatment before the entire plant is ready to operate.
Washington River Protection Solutions also plans more use of the Effluent Treatment Facility as it continues to retrieve waste from leak-prone single shell tanks and double shell Tank AY-102, which has waste leaking between its shells.
The 242-A Evaporator reduces the amount of liquid waste in Hanford’s useable double shell tanks, allowing more waste from single shell tanks to be emptied into them. Water vapor from the evaporation process is captured, condensed, filtered and sent to the Liquid Effluent Retention Facility.
The Liquid Effluent Retention Facility is used to hold contaminated waste water until it is sent to the Effluent Treatment Facility. Its three storage basins can hold about 23 million gallons of waste water. The Washington State Department of Ecology pointed out last year that the basins will reach their life expectancy this year.
The Treated Effluent Disposal Facility, also transferred to ORP, accepts the waste water after radioactive and hazardous chemical contamination is removed at the Effluent Treatment Facility.
The treated waste water is discharged to two infiltration basins. The facility can collect and dispose of nearly 2 billion gallons of treated water a year.