The first phase of the waste treatment and immobilisation plant is ready for startup and commissioning, to bring the 86 individual systems online
US-based EPC and project management company Bechtel announced that the US Department of Energy (DOE), and members of Congress have opened the 20,000ft2 control facility for a radioactive waste treatment plant.
Bechtel said that the plant is designed to safely treat millions of gallons of liquid radioactive waste and is located at the historic Hanford Site in Washington State, US.
The opening of the control facility marks another step toward starting waste treatment at the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste Facility, a seven-story, sports arena-sized plant and its associated support facilities.
Bechtel has collaborated with the DOE to support its mission to clean up nuclear waste
The first phase of the waste treatment and immobilisation plant is ready for startup and commissioning, to bring the 86 individual systems online. The plant is scheduled to begin treating waste by 2023.
The company said that the Hanford is the most challenging and complex radioactive waste cleanup site in the US, featuring nine nuclear reactors and chemical separation facilities that produced plutonium for US nuclear weapons between 1944 and 1987.
The plant holds approximately 56 million gallons of chemical and radioactive waste stored and needs treatment in underground tanks, of which few have leaked into the ground.
Bechtel project director Valerie McCain said: “The control room is the operations centre of the facility. By moving into the control room, we have the capability to monitor and control completed systems inside the 14 support buildings. We are also using the control room to conduct startup and testing activities for the plant and our Analytical Laboratory.”
In the first phase, the waste is planned to be piped to the low-activity waste facility, mixed with silica and other materials. Then it is melted and poured into stainless steel containers where it is allowed to solidify.
Following the process known as vitrification, the containers are disposed of at Hanford’s existing low-level waste disposal site.
Recently, AECOM announced that the DOE through its Office of River Protection in Richland, Wash has extended the current tank operations contract with AECOM-led Washington River Protection Solutions for the Hanford Site.