Bechtel National has flipped its lid.
It used a custom-made steel frame to turn over the first of two 28-ton lids that will top the melters at the Hanford vitrification plant’s Low Activity Waste Facility.
The melters, which will be the largest of their type in the world, will be used to heat radioactive waste and glass former to 2,100 degrees. The molten glass will be poured into containers, with the container and hardened glass permanently disposed of at a central Hanford landfill for low activity waste.
Cement-like insulation called refractory was placed on the underside on the lids, and then the lid needed to be carefully turned right side up. The steel lid is 12 feet by 22 feet and 16 inches thick and has several holes for piping and instruments access.
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Workers used a 15-by-25-foot steel frame to hold the lid rigid so it would not be damaged during the flip. Together the lid and frame weighed 34.5 tons.
“It performed flawlessly,” Bud Maple, mechanical superintendent for the Low Activity Waste Facility, in a statement said.
The first lid will be welded on its melter this spring. Then work will start to install refractory on the facility’s second melter.
The Department of Energy already is vitrifying radioactive waste at the Defense Waste Processing Facility in South Carolina. But the Hanford Low Activity Waste Facility melters will be five times larger than those melters.
DOE could be treating waste at the Low Activity Waste Facility as soon as 2022, while work continues on the High Level Radioactive Waste Facility at Hanford, which has technical issues.