Hanford conducts test of tank waste treatment support facilities

June 1, 2022, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
During the Hanford Site's Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste Program treatment operations, the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, background, will feed liquid waste to the Liquid Effluent Retention Facility, foreground, through a primary transfer line pictured here. (Photo: DOE)

Work crews at the Department of Energy's Hanford Site recently completed the first transfer of test water from the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant's Effluent Management Facility to the nearby Liquid Effluent Retention Facility (LERF). The transfer of 6,000 gallons was the first simulation of the process that will be used to treat secondary liquid waste from the plant’s Low-Activity Waste Facility during operations to treat tank waste.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment that culminates years of work by our team and alumni toward being ready for hot commissioning,” said Valerie McCain, project director and senior vice president for Bechtel National, Inc. “It’s an important step for the entire Hanford team and our collective mission of protecting the Columbia River and its shoreline communities.”

Bechtel National is a contractor of the DOE's Office of Environmental Management's Office of River Protection.

Test steps: To demonstrate the transfer, the work crews inside the Low-Activity Waste Facility's control room started a delivery sequence, and crews with tank operations contractor Washington River Protection Solutions began their acceptance protocols at the Liquid Effluent Retention Facility. These steps released the test water from the Effluent Management Facility, allowing it to travel through underground transfer lines to the Liquid Effluent Retention Facility.

During vitrification — the process of immobilizing tank waste in glass — secondary liquid, called effluent, will be generated by the Low-Activity Waste Facility, the Analytical Laboratory, and when transfer pipes are flushed. The effluent is fed to the Effluent Management Facility, where excess water is boiled away. The water is then piped into holding vessels, where testing ensures it meets waste-acceptance criteria before transfer to the Liquid Effluent Retention Facility. The remaining waste concentrate is returned to the Low-Activity Waste Facility for treatment.

During full operations, the Low-Activity Waste Facility is designed to vitrify up to 5,000 gallons of low-activity waste per day, equal to 1.75 million gallons per year.

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