Hanford’s initial tank waste campaign a success

February 7, 2024, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
A monitor in the control room of the Hanford Site’s TSCR system shows workers performing maintenance inside the TSCR facility. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management’s Office of River Protection and contractor Washington River Protection Solutions have completed the first waste processing campaign through the Tank-Side Cesium Removal (TSCR) system at the Hanford Site.

Tank waste disposal

November 17, 2023, 3:01PMNuclear NewsChris O’Neil
The 2F Evaporator at SRS. (Photo: Savannah River Site Photography)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management is responsible for roughly 90 million gallons of radioactive liquid waste at Idaho National Laboratory, the Hanford Site in Washington state, and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. About 900,000 gallons of waste are stored at INL, 56 million gallons at Hanford, and roughly 36 million at SRS. A further 400,000 gallons of waste from various operations are being stored at the Oak Ridge Site in Tennessee.

SRS employees use novel training exercise to align waste mission

October 5, 2023, 3:02PMRadwaste Solutions
Ray Tran, an engineer for Savannah River tank farms, helps complete a timeline of SRS historical events as part of SRMC’s vision casting training initiative. (Photo: DOE)

More than 3,000 employees with Department of Energy contractor Savannah River Mission Completion (SRMC) participated in a vision casting initiative, learning more about the past, present, and future of the Savannah River Site’s liquid waste mission.

Savannah River, Hanford collaborate on tank waste workshop

August 7, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Some of the participants of the recent SRNL-Hanford Analytical Knowledge Sharing Workshop pause for a photo. (Photo: DOE)

Two new reports shed light on Hanford’s tank waste challenges

June 5, 2023, 3:02PMRadwaste Solutions
Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant. (Photo: DOE)

A pair of recent reports by the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine highlight some of the challenges the Department of Energy faces in treating the millions of gallons of legacy radioactive waste at the Hanford Site in Washington state.

Feds, state reach agreement in Hanford cleanup negotiations

May 4, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The Hanford Site’s B Complex area tank farm containing waste created during the production of plutonium at the site. (Photo: DOE)

After nearly three years of discussions and more than 60 mediation sessions, the Department of Energy, Washington State Department of Ecology, and the Environmental Protection Agency announced that they have reached a conceptual agreement on revising plans for managing millions of gallons of waste stored in tanks at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash.

Hanford cites progress in retrieving tank waste, preps for future transfers

April 21, 2023, 9:33AMRadwaste Solutions
Photos taken inside Hanford’s Tank AX-101 before workers started removing radioactive and chemical waste from it in January. As of April 18, crews have removed 35 percent of the tank waste. (Photos: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) said in an April 18 release that workers have so far removed almost 150,000 gallons, or about 35 percent, of the radioactive and chemical waste from Tank AX-101 at the department’s Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. Retrieval from this tank began in January.

DOE awards $45 billion Hanford tank waste contract

April 14, 2023, 9:29AMRadwaste 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 awarded a 10-year contract worth up to $45 billion to Hanford Tank Waste Operations and Closure (H2C) of Lynchburg, Va., to oversee the management of liquid radioactive tank waste at the DOE’s Hanford Site in southeastern Washington state.

Hanford restarts liquid waste treatment after maintenance outage

March 20, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions

Workers change out spent 27,000-pound TSCR filter columns and place them on a nearby storage pad during a planned outage. (Photo: DOE)

Following a second planned maintenance outage, the Tank-Side Cesium Removal (TSCR) system at the Hanford Site in Washington state has resumed processing liquid tank waste, the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced on March 14.

According to EM, its Office of River Protection (ORP) and contractor Washington River Protection Solutions processed more than 25,000 gallons of waste during the previous week and has treated a total of 406,000 gallons of radioactive liquid waste since TSCR began operations early last year.

A key component in Hanford’s Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste program for treating tank waste, TSCR removes radioactive cesium and solids from tank waste and delivers low-activity waste to a nearby million-gallon tank, where it is staged until it can be fed to the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant for vitrification.

Outage improvements: During outages, workers change out filter columns that remove radioactive solids during waste processing, perform maintenance, and apply lessons learned from operations. According to EM, many improvements to the treatment system during outages over the past year came from recommendations made by workers and contractor and federal staff on the project team.

Hanford’s DFLAW operations unlikely to begin in 2023

March 8, 2023, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions

Hanford manager Brian Vance discusses the DFLAW program during a panel session at the 2023 Waste Management Symposia. (Photo: DOE)

Hanford’s waste vitrification operations are unlikely to start by the Department of Energy’s year-end goal, said Brian Vance, manager of the DOE’s Office of River Protection and Richland Operations Office for the Hanford Site in Washington state. The DOE is working to meet its obligations to begin processing Hanford’s low-level radioactive tank waste as part of its Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program.

“The probability for 2023 is very low,” Vance said, regarding the department’s plan to begin vitrifying the tank waste. Vance made his remarks during a panel session of the 2023 Waste Management Symposia in Phoenix, Ariz., on February 28.

Some of Hanford’s tank waste to be disposed of off-site as LLW

February 9, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

As preparations continue for immobilizing millions of gallons of low-activity tank waste at the Hanford Site in Washington state through vitrification, the Department of Energy has issued two key decisions for the handling and disposing of vitrified low-activity waste (LAW) and associated secondary wastes.

“Abnormal condition” pauses Hanford melter heat-up

October 26, 2022, 3:25PMRadwaste Solutions
Workers install one of 18 startup heaters into Melter 1 of Hanford’s Low-Activity Waste Facility. (Photo: Bechtel National)

Heating of the first waste vitrification melter at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site was paused after operators identified an “abnormal condition with the startup heater power supplies,” the DOE’s Office of River Protection (ORP) said. Heat-up of the 300-ton melter, which will be used to vitrify Hanford’s low-level radioactive tank waste, was initiated on October 8.

Heat-up of Hanford’s first vit melter begins

October 12, 2022, 12:01PMRadwaste Solutions
A screenshot from a 3D animation showing the heat-up of Hanford’s melters. (Image: DOE)

Crews at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site, near Richland, Wash., have begun heating up the first of two 300-ton melters that will be used to vitrify mixed low-level radioactive and chemical tank waste. According to the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM), initiating and completing the heating of the melter is a critical step to commissioning Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP), which will treat and stabilize the site’s 56 million gallons of tank waste by immobilizing it in glass through the vitrification process.

DOE releases 5-year Hanford cleanup plan

October 11, 2022, 9:37AMRadwaste Solutions

By fiscal year 2027, Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) will ramp up toward producing 21 metric tons of low-level radioactive glass a day, according to the Department of Energy’s five-year plan for the site near Richland, Wash.

The plan, which was released on October 3 and opened for a 31-day public comment period, outlines what cleanup work will be initiated or completed at the Hanford Site during FYs 2023–2027.

New transfer lines installed on Hanford tank waste evaporator

September 8, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions

Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) crews recently finished installing about 1,300 feet of new waste transfer lines between a tank waste evaporator and a nearby tank farm at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site, near Richland, Wash. WRPS is the tank operations contractor for the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM).

Washington and DOE reach an agreement on leaking Hanford tanks

August 26, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The B Farm underground waste tank area at Hanford. (Photo: DOE)

Washington state’s Department of Ecology and the U.S. Department of Energy have agreed on a plan for how to respond to two underground tanks that are leaking radioactive waste, as well as any future tank leaks, at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash.

In April 2021, following a year-long leak assessment, the DOE announced that Hanford’s Tank B-109 is leaking waste into the surrounding soil. Tank T-111 was discovered to be leaking in 2013. Currently, Tank B-109 is leaking about 1.5 gallons of waste per day, and Tank T-111 is leaking less than a gallon a day, according to the DOE.

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 retrieve waste from Tank AX-101 at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. WRPS is the tank operations contractor at Hanford.

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.

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.

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.