Safely and effectively treating the world’s most challenging liquid waste

For more than 40 years, Bechtel has been helping governments tackle critical radioactive and chemical clean-up efforts at more than 500 contaminated sites across the world — including Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. We also helped the U.S. Department of Energy address radiologically contaminated water and keep people safe.  We support customers trying to address contamination due to accidents, acts of terrorism, or natural disasters.

three employees consult each other on the shoreline

Safeguarding humanity

In 2011, a 49-foot (15-meter) tsunami, triggered by a powerful offshore earthquake, caused extensive damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant located 102.5 miles (165 kilometers) north of Tokyo.

Since then, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has made good progress in stabilizing the site and taking forward the clean-up effort. One of the continuing challenges is how best to manage the significant volumes of contaminated water accumulated in the reactor building’s basements.

We have collaborated with TEPCO on studies to optimize existing water treatment strategies, and have helped develop solutions for the treatment of their waste streams.

The Hanford facility as seen from the river

Hanford

During World War II and throughout the Cold War, southeastern Washington state housed a vast complex of nuclear reactors and processing facilities that produced plutonium for atomic weapons. The Hanford Site was decommissioned in 1987, but its nuclear and chemical waste remains. The Waste Treatment Plant will render it safe in the form of glass logs inside stainless steel canisters.

In the first phase of operations, WTP's Low-Activity Waste Facility will produce about 1,100 containers per year, to be stored permanently at the Hanford Site. That is expected to begin in 2023. 

Later, WTP's High-Level Waste Facility will vitrify waste with higher radioactivity. Those canisters will be destined for a to-be-determined national repository.  

The complexity of the waste presents unprecedented challenges. Bechtel has collaborated with the Department of Energy, academia, national laboratories, and the nuclear industry to deliver the treatment complex.