DOE begins commissioning of Hanford’s WTP

November 30, 2021, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Electrician Ralph Bisla conducts tests of the finishing line inside Hanford’s WTP Low-Activity Waste Facility. (Photo: DOE)

Having completed all startup testing of components and systems, the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash., has moved to the commissioning phase, the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced last week. During the commissioning phase, the final steps will be taken to prepare for the vitrification of radioactive and chemical waste as part of Hanford’s Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program.

“It was a huge milestone for the startup team to transfer the final DFLAW systems to the care, custody, and control of plant management,” said Valerie McCain, project director and senior vice president for Bechtel National, the prime contractor designing, building, and commissioning the WTP. “We are in the final phase of our preparations to start vitrifying waste.”

The WTP facilities can be viewed interactively using the DOE’s self-guided Hanford Virtual Tour.

DFLAW: A system of interdependent projects and infrastructure improvements, DFLAW begins with the Tank-Side Cesium Removal System, a pretreatment system that will filter out suspended solids and remove radioactive cesium to produce low-activity waste feed from tank waste liquid. The waste will then be sent to the WTP’s Low-Activity Waste Facility, where the waste and glass-forming materials will be mixed in two large melters. The resulting vitrified waste will be poured into stainless steel containers and transported to the site’s Integrated Disposal Facility for disposal.

He said it: Mat Irwin, EM Office of River Protection deputy assistant manager for the WTP, said, “With the completion of startup testing, we can focus on commissioning and establishing the operating culture necessary to safely begin a new era of operations at Hanford. All contractors are driving toward 24/7 operations to ensure we can operate the plant successfully.”

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