A Department of Ecology inspector at the Hanford Site. (Photo: Department of Ecology)
Washington state’s Department of Ecology said it has reached a settlement with the Department of Energy over access to data the state described as “critical” to the cleanup of the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash.
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.
Using GeoMelt ICV technology to treat and immobilize problematic low-level wastes at INL and WCS.
A sample of GeoMelt glass. (Photos: Veolia)
When it comes to managing nuclear waste, technology is transforming the way some of the most problematic waste is handled. The idea to transform nuclear waste into glass was developed back in the 1970s as a way to lock away the waste’s radioactive elements and prevent them from escaping. For more than 40 years, vitrification has been used for the immobilization of high-level radioactive waste in many countries around the world, including the United States.
Front face of the B Reactor at the Hanford Site. (Photo: DOE)
In remote southeastern Washington you will find the sprawling Hanford Site, which was constructed to produce plutonium for the Manhattan Project. Within this complex is the first plutonium production reactor, the Hanford B Reactor. The DuPont Corporation was responsible for construction and operation of the B Reactor. Due to the urgency of the Manhattan Project, construction was completed in just over a year, and The B Reactor went critical on September 26, 1944. After the needs of the Manhattan Project were satisfied, the reactor was briefly shut down and then restarted to produce plutonium for roughly another 20 years, supporting Cold War efforts. In addition to plutonium production, the B Reactor also pioneered the process to produce tritium for the first-ever thermonuclear test.
Tiara Carrasquillo Pérez (far left) and Matt Hageman (far right) are pictured with five other WISE interns and FMR Gil Brown (center front).
For the first time since 2019, student interns were welcomed to Washington, D.C., for the summer to participate in the Washington Internships for Students of Engineering (WISE) program. Among them were two students sponsored by ANS—Tiara Carrasquillo Pérez and Matt Hageman.
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.
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.