Hanford

Hanford a step closer to treating radioactive waste in 5 years

Workers maneuver a 14-ton caustic scrubber into place at the Hanford vitrification plant’s Low Activity Waste Facility after a crane lowered it in through the facility’s roof. Once internal components are installed, it will weigh 19 tons.
Workers maneuver a 14-ton caustic scrubber into place at the Hanford vitrification plant’s Low Activity Waste Facility after a crane lowered it in through the facility’s roof. Once internal components are installed, it will weigh 19 tons. Courtesy Bechtel National

Workers at the Hanford vitrification plant have completed another step toward getting the plant ready to treat some of the nuclear reservation’s waste by as soon as 2022.

The last major equipment for a system that will clean the exhaust from the first operating treatment facility at the plant has been installed.

The system will make sure exhaust from the Low Activity Waste Facility meets air quality requirements as the facility produces up to 30 tons of vitrified waste a day.

The caustic scrubber — which is nearly 30 feet tall and 6 feet in diameter — was lowered through the roof of the 90-foot-tall Low Activity Waste Facility. The scrubber, initially weighing 14 tons, weighs 19 tons with internal components installed.

The facility will be used to treat low-activity radioactive waste while work continues on the parts of the plant that will treat high-level radioactive waste. Hanford has 56 million gallons of radioactive waste now stored in underground tanks will be turned into a stable glass form at the plant for permanent disposal.

With the last part of the facility’s off-gas treatment system installed, the other remaining equipment can be installed in the facility, according to Bechtel National, the Department of Energy contractor building the plant.

Construction on the facility is expected to be completed June 2018, allowing time for start-up, testing and commissioning before 2022.

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