Hanford upgrades its Effluent Treatment Facility

November 7, 2023, 9:31AMRadwaste Solutions
The Hanford Site’s ETF has been expanded. (Photo: DOE)

The Hanford Site’s Effluent Treatment Facility (ETF) has been expanded and will be able to handle almost 7 million more gallons of wastewater per year once the site’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) begins treating waste from large underground tanks.

More than 40 upgrades at the ETF have been completed to increase the facility’s capability, efficiency, and reliability, according to the Department of Energy. The upgrades will allow the ETF to process liquid waste streams from the WTP and other facilities during tank waste treatment operations.

The ETF is managed by the DOE’s tank operations contractor Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) and is part of Hanford’s Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program to vitrify tank waste, immobilizing it in glass for onsite disposal.

“The ETF is the last step in the DFLAW process, and these upgrades prepare it for playing a key role in treating and disposing of contaminated wastewater from the vitrification process,” said Bibek Tamang, WRPS’s ETF program manager. “These upgrades were needed to prepare the ETF for 24/7 waste treatment operations.”

Improvements: The ETF, which is nearly 30 years old, began receiving upgrades in 2019, including new monitoring and control systems, freeze protection and wastewater filtration systems, and a system to remove and dispose of hazardous byproducts of vitrification.

Workers also constructed equipment to provide cooling water for the new systems and expanded a load-in station for more waste transfers from across the site.

In addition, the capacity of the nearby Liquid Effluent Retention Facility (LERF) was expanded by adding a fourth 7.8 million-gallon storage basin to receive and store wastewater prior to treatment at the ETF.

Future work: Upgrades were necessary for the ETF to handle the increased volume of wastewater that will be generated by the start of DFLAW operations, according to the DOE. When fully operational, WTP is expected to transfer as much as 5.4 million gallons of effluent per year to the ETF for processing, while Hanford’s Integrated Disposal Facility will add another 1.2 million gallons annually.

The new systems are currently being tested to prepare for upcoming tank waste treatment activities to ensure that the ETF is ready when 24/7 DFLAW operations begin.

Quote: “ETF’s role in reducing tank waste volume is integral to the overall Hanford tank farms mission, since tank waste storage space is limited,” said Adam Mathews, WRPS’s ETF and LERF manager. “The facility will become even more essential as the DFLAW process comes on line.”

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