In 2015, employees at the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) at the Hanford Site in Washington state made significant progress on construction of the plant. When completed, the plant will safely treat and immobilize millions of gallons of liquid radioactive waste generated by Cold War nuclear weapons activities by mixing the waste with glass-forming materials, melting it, and pouring it into stainless steel containers for eventual disposal.
“These accomplishments can only occur because all WTP employees are focused on the same goal: building a plant that will safely and efficiently treat the millions of gallons of waste in the tanks,” noted Peggy McCullough, WTP project director and Bechtel senior vice president, in a letter thanking employees for their work in 2015.
- Workers completed 30 percent of the design to send tank waste directly to the Low-Activity Waste Vitrification Facility (LAW). The design review at this stage is an important step toward initial construction of the direct feed system.
- Workers completed placement of refractory, or insulating material, at the LAW Facility in the two 300-ton waste glass melters. These melters will mix and melt low-activity radioactive waste with glass-forming materials.
- The Thermal Catalytic Oxidizer (TCO), a major component in the LAW Facility off-gas treatment system neared completion. Once complete, the TCO will undergo testing at the fabricator’s facility before installation.
- Work at the Analytical Laboratory shifted toward outfitting the laboratory with equipment and fixtures before the facility is turned over to the startup group, which will ensure all systems are working properly.
- Construction on several of the plant’s infrastructure systems was completed. All major systems in two electrical switchgear facilities and a non-radioactive liquid waste disposal facility were transferred from the construction group to the startup group.
- At the High-Level Waste Vitrification Facility, workers completed 22 concrete placements for walls and floors in the nearly 600,000-square-foot facility.
- In 2015, WTP received DOE’s highest award for safety, the Voluntary Protection Program Star of Excellence. Last year was the safest year in the project’s 15-year history and WTP continues to be one of the safest places to work in the Department of Energy (DOE) complex.