The Bechtel National Inc. team designing, building, and commissioning the Hanford Waste Treatment Plant (WTP) reported several major accomplishments in 2013.
WTP makes major progress in 2013
Since 2000, Bechtel National has been designing, building, and commissioning the world’s largest radioactive waste treatment plant, for the U.S. Department of Energy. When completed, the Hanford Waste Treatment Plant, in southeastern Washington state, will process and stabilize 56 million gallons (212 million liters) of radioactive and chemical waste left over from World War II and Cold War weapons production. The plant will use vitrification technology, blending waste with glass-forming materials and heating the mixture a bit beyond molten-lava temperatures. In glass form, the waste is stable and impervious to the environment, and its radioactivity will safely dissipate over hundreds to thousands of years.
Sunrise at the Hanford Waste Treatment Plant project, in southeastern Washington state.
Learn more about WTP’s vitrification technology.
In 2013, WTP teams finished placing structural steel up to the 77-foot (23.5-meter) level of the High-Level Waste Facility, which will be six stories high. The facility rests on a 6-foot- (1.8-meter-) thick, steel-laced concrete foundation, with walls measuring up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) thick.
The slurry of glass-making materials and waste will be fed to melters in both the High-Level Waste and Low-Activity Waste Facilities, where it will be heated to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit (1,149 degrees Celsius). In the High-Level Waste Facility, the mixture will be poured into stainless steel canisters, where it will cool to a solid glass, or vitrified, form. Waste in the Low-Activity Waste Facility will be placed in containers and sealed.
The High-Level Waste Facility will produce nearly 500 canisters per year. The canisters will be stored on the Hanford Site and later moved to permanent storage at a federal repository. The Low-Activity Waste Facility will produce about 1,100 containers to be stored permanently at the Hanford Site.
Safety achievements: In 2013, WTP employees delivered the best safety performance since the project began in 2000. The team’s total recordable incident rate was down 47 percent from 2012—reaching its lowest level yet. The U.S. Department of Energy also has recommended a three-year extension of the project’s Voluntary Protection Program Star Status.
Workers made substantial progress on the Analytical Lab last year, completing all work except installing equipment and materials that will require maintenance or would become obsolete or exposed to potential damage before construction is complete.