Hanford

Looking for work? Hanford vit plant to fill up to 300 jobs

Members of a startup team at the Hanford vitrification plant test the control system in the Analytical Laboratory.
Members of a startup team at the Hanford vitrification plant test the control system in the Analytical Laboratory. Courtesy Bechtel National

The Hanford vitrification plant project plans to hire nearly 300 workers in the next several months, says contractor Bechtel National.

The hiring comes as the plant continues to shift from mostly construction work to preparations to operate the $17 billion plant by a court-enforced deadline in 2023 or sooner.

Bechtel and its primary subcontractor, AECOM, will be hiring for a range of positions.

The project will be looking for electrical, nuclear and systems engineering expertise. It also will have openings for jobs focused on purchasing and subcontracting work and on start up.

Current postings range from an office administrative position to construction technicians to safety specialists. Openings are posted at hanfordvitplant.com under “Careers.”

The postings come as the vitrification plant project starts the current fiscal year with budget certainty after Congress passed a Department of Energy appropriations bill before the Oct. 1 start of the fiscal year.

It’s the first time in at least eight years that Congress has approved a full Hanford Site budget by the start of a fiscal year.

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The Hanford nuclear reservation vitrification plant has four main nuclear buildings and about 20 support facilities on 65 acres. Courtesy Bechtel National

The current annual budget includes $745 million for vitrification plant project activities, not including a pretreatment system to prepare low activity waste for glassification. The plant now employs about 2,800 workers.

It is being built to glassify much of the 56 million gallons of radioactive waste now held in underground tanks to prepare it for disposal. The waste is left from the past production of plutonium at the Hanford nuclear reservation for the nation’s nuclear weapons program.

Construction began on the project in 2002, with four main buildings planned and about 20 support buildings.

Current plans call for starting just those parts of the plant needed to treat low-activity radioactive waste by 2023, after technical issues have temporarily halted or slowed construction on parts of the plant that will handle high level radioactive waste.

All parts of the plant are required to be fully operating by 2036.

Employees at the plant began start up testing in January of the two major buildings needed to treat low-activity waste, the Low Activity Waste Facility and the Analytical Laboratory.

This month the Analytical Laboratory became the first of the four major facilities at the plant to have permanent power turned on.

Electricity in the building is now self-contained and powering lights, panels and outlets, allowing employees to begin testing laboratory equipment.

The lab will be used to analyze samples of incoming low-activity tank waste to confirm the correct recipe for glass-forming material that will be added to the waste. It also will confirm that the waste-encasing glass produced a meets regulatory requirements.

The laboratory is expected to analyze about 3,000 samples annually.

Several of the smaller support facilities for the plant had construction and startup completed over the summer. They include the Water Treatment Building, the Main Site Electrical Switchgear Building and the Fire Water Pump House.

Annette Cary; 509-582-1533; @HanfordNews
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