Progress Edition

Bechtel National – Waste Treatment Plant Project: Investing in Tri-Cities’ future

The Low-Activity Waste Vitrification Facility exterior is seen at sunrise.
The Low-Activity Waste Vitrification Facility exterior is seen at sunrise.

It’s an exciting time for the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP), or Vit Plant. Bechtel and the Department of Energy recently completed a new contract modification that formalizes work we began in 2014 on a new sequenced approach called Direct Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW). The significant progress we’ve made the past few years, and the new contract, position us to begin vitrification of low-activity waste as soon as 2022.

Under the DFLAW approach, we will complete construction of the WTP Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility and support facilities before finishing the Pretreatment and High-Level Waste facilities. The original WTP plan called for all of these facilities to be completed and brought online simultaneously. DFLAW allows waste from the tank farms to be delivered directly into the LAW Facility for processing rather than first being processed in the Pretreatment Facility.

Our success with DFLAW will serve as the foundation for completing the Pretreatment and High-Level Waste facilities as we leverage the expertise and learnings gained through that first phase.

I’m confident in our ability to make glass as soon as 2022. Bechtel and AECOM share a workforce of nearly 3,000 people who are dedicated to making it happen.

The Vit Plant, when complete, will be the world’s largest and most complex vitrification facility. And the waste is the most complex in the world–with a mix of radioactive constituents, as well as more than 1,800 different chemicals to process and treat. When operational, the Vit Plant will process daily 30 times more waste than the world’s current largest vitrification plant.

In 2017, we will complete installation of the last engineered piece of major equipment in the LAW Facility and complete the final structural assembly of two melters that serve as the heart of LAW–with completion of that facility anticipated in 2018. We will continue our efforts to restart construction for the remaining facilities with a year-long vessel testing campaign for the Pretreatment Facility and continuing civil construction build out of the High-Level Waste Facility.

The success of DFLAW–and our ability to begin making glass in as soon as five years–depends upon our performance, as well as the collaboration of our stakeholders around the community and country. A mammoth undertaking such as the Vit Plant requires the involvement and support of all of our employees and the hundreds more with DOE, oversight boards and our regulators. We value the continuous support we receive from Hanford Communities and the Tri-City Development Council (TRIDEC) in representing to other constituencies the progress and priorities of the Vit Plant.

Beyond their dedication to the Vit Plant, our employees are some of the most generous I’ve ever worked with in my career. In 2016, Bechtel and AECOM employees donated more than $584,000 to nonprofits in the Tri-Cities, as well as thousands of volunteer hours. They spearhead fundraisers on a regular basis, gathering donations at the holidays for special campaigns and throughout the year. On top of individual employees’ donations, Bechtel provides charitable donations to nearly 50 organizations and causes in the Tri-Cities, including the United Way, Friends of Badger Mountain, Second Harvest, Columbia Basin College and the Washington STEM Education Foundation.

We look forward to the continued physical progress we’ll make this year toward achieving DFLAW as soon as 2022 and to continuing this journey with our employees and with the Tri-Cities community.

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