The Hanford Site has always been a catalyst for innovation — starting in the 1940s when some of the greatest minds of the era converged here to develop nuclear technology.
Managing the waste left behind presents a challenge fraught with complexity. Yet this very challenge has also inspired generations of scientists and engineers to pioneer new ways to protect the environment from nuclear waste. The Tri-City region has become a thriving network of experts who are driving the future of nuclear and hazardous waste management right here in Richland and around the world.
A new catalyst for innovation
One site benefiting from the wealth of experience garnered at Hanford is the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. Since the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the plant in 2011, Kurion has drawn upon knowledge from Hanford to help with the cleanup efforts. The crisis at Fukushima has spurred our teams and the industry to move faster than ever before to address the critical issues at the site.
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One of the most significant challenges facing Fukushima is how to treat the persistent flow of contaminated water leaking from the plant’s damaged reactors, which has grown to a volume of 400,000 metric tons and is stored in more than 1,000 tanks at the site. Last year, Kurion tapped the expertise of our Richland engineering team to design a truly innovative treatment system to remove strontium from the water. The Kurion Mobile Processing System (KMPS) — a first-of-its-kind mobile at-tank isotope removal system — can move around the tank farm to most effectively remove strontium from the water, improving safety at the site. The system generates an easily vitrifiable waste with a high volume reduction into a dry stabilized waste form suitable for long term storage and/or disposal. The fabrication team at HiLine Engineering worked quickly to construct the KMPS right here in Richland, and it was then shipped to Fukushima from Seattle’s SeaTac Airport via a Russian Antinov, the largest plane in the world.
After the KMPS went into operation and surpassed performance targets, Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, turned to Kurion to build a second system to accelerate the removal of strontium from the tank water. We shipped the second system to Japan in December, and it is being deployed.
Technology with applications for Hanford around the world
These are just a few ways that the innovative spirit and expertise of our local team of employees and suppliers has helped power nuclear waste solutions abroad — and it doesn’t stop there. The technologies developed for Fukushima are being designed, built and deployed at a record pace for the industry. We are rapidly gaining valuable experience and insights that can help uncover solutions for some of the industry’s most difficult challenges for sites ranging from Hanford to Sellafield in the United Kingdom.
Through our expanding role in the cleanup at Fukushima and projects at Hanford and Sellafield, we’ve accelerated Kurion’s own growth, opening new offices in Japan, Europe and Idaho Falls in the last year. As we continue to push forward to meet the industry’s toughest waste challenges, we are building an innovative and truly end-to-end solution. We look forward to drawing upon the expertise of our teams in the Tri-Cities and beyond to continue pushing the boundaries of waste management in 2015.
Kurion was honored to play the critical role as part of the small team of companies in 2011 that quickly delivered the first-ever external reactor cooling and purification system for Fukushima to avert flooding and avoid a greater catastrophe. At the time, our employees and network of suppliers worked around the clock to help the Japanese during the early weeks of the crisis. This commitment has not waned. I am grateful for the continued dedication of Kurion’s employees in the Tri-Cities region and our many partners here as we support Japan in this historic effort.
While Japan and the Department of Energy markets continue to receive focus from Kurion, the company also has major initiatives under way in the U.K., France and Asia. Our applied technologies are finding relevance throughout the world.