Bridge crane in place at vit plant

Crews at the Hanford vitrification plant have received and set a bridge crane that is key to allowing construction of the plant's High Level Waste Facility to advance.

The crane, which has a 3-ton capacity, needed to be in place before piping could be installed above and around it.

Teamwork and coordination among engineering, procurement and construction workers allowed the crane to be delivered, then installed in a matter of days, said Joe St. Julian, Bechtel National area project manager for the facility.

The bridge crane was set in a 40-by-16-foot area on the northeast side of the High Level Waste Facility. Using a tower crane, crews lifted it over the facility's 58-foot walls and lowered it, with just a few inches of clearance at each end, onto rails installed 16 feet above the ground.

The crane, manufactured by American Crane & Equipment Corp. in Pennsylvania, weighs 6 tons and measures about 16 feet long, 9 feet wide and 4 feet tall.

It will be used to handle 55-gallon carbon-steel drums before and after they are filled with residual solid waste. The residual waste is composed of solids, such as filters, glass shards and welding material remnants, produced during the vitrification process. At the plant, radioactive waste is mixed with glass former and heated to vitrify, or glassify, it and produce a stable waste form for disposal.

It will be deposited into the drums, which will be fitted with lids and cleaned to remove any contamination on their exterior. Then they will be removed from the facility inside 9-inch-thick steel casks and taken to storage off the vit plant campus.

When operating, the bridge crane will run the length of the drum cleaning and monitoring area, as well as an additional 10 feet into a crane maintenance area. It will be operated remotely from an adjacent room.

"Setting this bridge crane is an excellent sign of advancing construction of the High Level Waste Facility from civil construction -- concrete and steel -- into mechanical installations," said Gary Olsen, Department of Energy area project manager.

The High Level Waste Facility is the most structurally complex vit plant facility and is 35 percent constructed with a scheduled completion in 2016.