Hanford prepares to empty waste from single-shell tank

August 15, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Hanford workers will soon begin retrieving about 373,000 gallons of waste from Tank AX-101, shown here in an image from an inspection video shot. (Photo: DOE)

Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) is preparing to begin waste retrieval from Tank AX-101 at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. WRPS is the tank operations contractor at Hanford.

Cocooning of Hanford’s K East Reactor begins

June 29, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
The first steel columns, each weighing up to 28 tons, were placed for a cocoon over the former K East Reactor building at the Hanford Site. (Photo: DOE-EM)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) said that construction is well underway on a protective enclosure, or cocoon, for the K East Reactor building at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash.

EM reports that is has achieved one of its key construction priorities for 2022 by beginning construction of the enclosure, which is designed to protect the reactor building while the radioactivity in the deactivated reactor core decays over the next several decades, making it safer and easier to decommission.

A time-lapse video showing the construction of the cocoon’s massive 120-foot steel frame can be seen here.

U.S. Supreme Court rules against Hanford workers’ comp law

June 23, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
An aerial view of Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant in 2021. (Photo: Bechtel National)

The U.S. Supreme Court on June 21 struck down a Washington state workers’ compensation law that was designed to make it easier for workers at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site to receive compensation benefits. The court, by unanimous decision, found that the law violates the U.S. Supremacy Clause and discriminates against the federal government and its contractors.

Located near Richland, Wash., the Hanford Site produced plutonium for the U.S. weapons program for more than 40 years and is currently undergoing a massive radiological cleanup mission involving around 10,000 workers.

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.

DOE releases updated cleanup strategy

March 10, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has issued EM Strategic Vision 2022-2032, a blueprint for planned nuclear-related cleanup efforts over the next decade. The document outlines environmental cleanup priorities for 2022–2032, focusing on safety, innovation, and improved performance.

According to a March 8 statement, the DOE is working to fulfill “the moral and ecological responsibility of safely dealing with contamination and delivering on environmental justice goals in communities that were vital to the development of nuclear weapons and advances in government-sponsored nuclear energy research.”

EM Strategic Vision 2022–2032, which is available here, is an update of previous iterations and was developed with feedback from regulators, tribal nations, local communities, and other partners.

Hanford K East Reactor cocooning project taking shape

March 8, 2022, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
An artist’s rendering of the K East Reactor safe-storage enclosure. (Photo: DOE)

Preparations are being made to enclose, or “cocoon,” the K East Reactor, the seventh of nine former reactors at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site. The cocooning project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Watch this video for more on the project.

Hanford’s cesium removal system begins waste treatment operations

February 4, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
WRPS operations engineer Steven Porter, left, and nuclear chemical operator Brent Walker monitor the TSCR System in the control room as the system is put in operations mode. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy announced on Wednesday that the first large-scale treatment of radioactive and chemical waste from underground tanks at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash., has begun with the start of operations of the Tank-Side Cesium Removal (TSCR) System.

The newly operational TSCR System removes radioactive cesium and solids from the tank waste. The treated waste will be fed directly to the nearby Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) for vitrification when the plant comes on line next year.

DOE notes progress in campaign to transfer radioactive capsules to dry storage at Hanford Site

January 27, 2022, 12:03PMRadwaste Solutions
Workers recently installed manipulator equipment at a full-scale mock-up of areas of the Hanford Site’s Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced this week that preparations are well underway for the transfer of nearly 2,000 highly radioactive cesium and strontium capsules from the Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility (WESF) to interim dry storage at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash.

“Escape room” used to train Hanford employees in respiratory protection

January 20, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Employees wearing supplied-air equipment work through clues in an “escape room” during respiratory protection training at Hanford’s Volpentest HAMMER Federal Training Center. (Photo: DOE)

A new respiratory protection course at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site near Richland, Wash., features an “escape room” in which employees wear supplied-air equipment while they answer questions, discover clues, and solve puzzles in a simulated work environment.

The origins of The Reactor Safety Study

September 10, 2021, 8:22AMUpdated December 31, 2021, 7:15AMNuclear NewsThomas R. Wellock
An aerial view of the Hanford reservation and Columbia River that shows the N (nearest), KE/KW (center), and B (top right) reactors. (Photo: U.S. DOE )

In March 1972, Stephen Hanauer, a technical advisor with the Atomic Energy Commission, met with Norman Rasmussen, a nuclear engineering professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The AEC had recruited Rasmussen to develop a report, The Reactor Safety Study (WASH-1400), to estimate the probabilities and consequences of a major nuclear power plant accident. With thousands of safety components in a modern reactor, the task was mind-boggling. Rasmussen proposed a novel approach based on more powerful computers, “fault tree” methodology, and an expanding body of operational data. By calculating and aggregating probabilities for innumerable failure chains of components, he believed he could develop a meaningful estimate of overall accident risk. WASH-1400 would be a first-of-its-kind probabilistic risk assessment (PRA).

Hanford evaporator prepares for tank waste treatment

December 23, 2021, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
A worker installing new waste transfer lines between Hanford’s large underground tanks and evaporator facility welds a secondary encasement on one of the lines. (Photo: DOE)

As the Department of Energy's Hanford Site prepares for around-the-clock operations for tank waste disposal, workers at the site's 242-A Evaporator are upgrading equipment used to remove water from the tank waste and the systems that transfer waste to and from large underground containers. The upgrades will also extend the evaporator’s service life.

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.

DOE looks to dispose of Hanford tank waste as LLW

November 9, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Crews pump waste from Hanford’s single-shell tanks to more stable double-shell tanks. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy is considering solidifying 2,000 gallons of Hanford’s tank waste and disposing of it as low-level radioactive waste at an off-site facility. A virtual public meeting on the proposed disposal plan is scheduled for November 18.

RFP issued for Hanford’s integrated tank disposition contract

October 25, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, also known as the Vit Plant. (Photo: Bechtel National)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has issued a final request for proposal (RFP) for the Hanford Integrated Tank Disposition Contract, a 10-year, $45 billion deal to oversee waste tank operations at the DOE’s Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. Proposals are due by December 20.

DOE and EPA agree on further cleanup work at Hanford’s 100-BC Area

October 22, 2021, 7:14AMRadwaste Solutions
The 100-BC Area (in green) within the Hanford Site. (Image: DOE)

Soil and groundwater contamination at the Hanford Site’s 100-BC Area will be treated under a record of decision (ROD) signed by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, with the concurrence of the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Animation depicts Hanford’s direct-feed waste treatment process

October 20, 2021, 12:09PMRadwaste Solutions
A screen shot from Hanford’s DFLAW animation. (Image: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has released an animated video of the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) Program at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. The video shows the integrated procedure for treating Hanford’s radioactive tank waste, a process EM says is a key component of its strategic cleanup vision.

View the animation here.

Washington, Oregon receive over $33 million in Hanford assistance grants

October 7, 2021, 3:01PMRadwaste Solutions
Nitya Chandran, a facility engineer with the Washington State Department of Ecology, inspects Hanford’s tank-side cesium removal system. (Photo: DOE)

Washington state and Oregon will receive approximately $33.5 million through four financial assistance grants from the Department of Energy to fund programs related to the cleanup of the department’s Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. The grants will support environmental response regulatory activities, emergency preparedness, and public information programs in the two states.

All four grants, which were noncompetitively awarded, are for fiscal years 2022 through 2026.

Pipeline connecting Hanford tank farm to Vit Plant completed

August 20, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Hanford workers fit sections of double-walled pipe in place, connecting the site’s tank farms to the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant. (Screen shot: WRPS/YouTube)

The Department of Energy is celebrating a major milestone in its tank waste mission at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. DOE tank operations contractor Washington River Protection Solutions has finished construction of the pipeline that will carry treated waste from an underground tank to the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) for vitrification.

Subcontracts awarded to enclose Hanford’s K East Reactor building

August 12, 2021, 9:07AMRadwaste Solutions
An artist’s rendition of the K East Reactor safe-storage enclosure. (Image: DOE)

DGR Grant Construction will construct a safe-storage enclosure over the K East Reactor building at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site in Washington state. Two construction subcontracts, worth about $9.5 million, were awarded to the Richland, Wash.–based company by Central Plateau Cleanup Company, the DOE’s Richland Operations Office site cleanup contractor.

Backup battery system will keep Hanford’s waste melters from going cold

July 15, 2021, 6:31AMRadwaste Solutions
The DOE recently completed startup testing on the uninterruptable electrical power system for Hanford’s Low-Activity Waste Facility.

Department of Energy workers recently finished startup testing of a battery-powered backup electrical system for the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. According to the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM), the uninterruptable electrical power system is vital to safeguarding the facility, part of Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, in the unlikely event of a temporary power loss to the plant.