This spring we're making important strides in the construction of the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Vitrification Facility at the Hanford Vit Plant - specifically, receiving final pieces of major engineered equipment.
Of the nearly 200 major engineered pieces of equipment already installed in the LAW Facility, two are massive melters used in the vitrification process. In this issue, you can read about how our team of engineers, construction professionals and craft workers prepared to place a lid on one of these melters. While it may sound simple, moving a lid that weighs 28 tons, or nearly half as much as a Boeing 737, and then turning it over in a confined space isn't an easy task.
Once finished, the LAW Facility will vitrify a large portion of the radioactive waste from the single- and double- shell tanks at Hanford.
I'll continue to share updates with you on our progress in future issues. I encourage you to send me your thoughts on the Vit Bits newsletter and its contents and to share any suggestions for how we can communicate with you better. Send an email to email@example.com.
Reviews of quality, safety culture
Quality audit. In February, Vit Plant employees provided a group of about 30 auditors from the Department of Energy’s Office of River Protection with more than 4,500 documents and participated in more than 230 interviews. More than 75 project meetings were made available for their observation. The auditors are examining the effectiveness of changes made to improve the project’s implementation of its quality assurance and corrective action programs. The ORP team’s report is expected later this spring.
Corrective action audit. A DOE Office of Inspector General audit report released in February found issues with and areas of improvement for the Vit Plant’s corrective action program from a review done in 2014. Many of the issues identified were addressed and resolved over the past year.
Bechtel performs work on new Effluent Management Facility
Hanford Vit Plant employees perform work for the new Effluent Management Facility.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is an edited version of an article that appeared in the March 16, 2016, edition of the Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management's EM Update newsletter.
EM’s Office of River Protection’s (ORP) Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program is moving forward on the Effluent Management Facility (EMF) site at the Hanford Vit Plant and is more than 30 percent complete with design.
The EMF will treat liquid effluent from the Vit Plant Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Vitrification Facility, which will be used to begin treating Hanford’s tank waste as soon as 2022.
The DFLAW program is intended to allow ORP to begin vitrifying Hanford's nuclear and chemical wastes as soon as 2022.
Work on the EMF will proceed under a “design-build” approach with design reviews at the 60- and 90-percent design marks. Work on getting the facility’s permits from the Washington State Department of Ecology will also start this year.
Mixing it up: Agitators installed in LAW Facility vessels
Workers install an agitator in a stainless steel vessel in the Low-Activity Waste Vitrification Facility.
Workers are nearly done installing giant mixers, called agitators, in large stainless steel vessels in the Low-Activity Waste Vitrification (LAW) Facility.
Ranging in length from 14-24 feet, the agitators will keep liquids and solids properly mixed in eight large vessels, some of which have the capacity of an average-sized backyard swimming pool. Seven of the eight agitators have been installed.
The agitators are important to keep the glass-forming solids suspended in the waste before it is sent to melters where it will be heated to 2,100 degrees F, poured into containers and allowed to cool and solidify. The process is called vitrification.
Melter lid flip marks critical step in LAW Facility progress
A 12-foot by 22-foot melter lid is flipped inside the Low-Activity Waste Vitrification Facility.
“Flipping their lid” took on new meaning at the Hanford Vit Plant when workers completed a critical step in installing the waste glass melters in the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Vitrification Facility.
The critical step involved flipping a 28-ton melter lid right-side-up after finishing placing the cement-like insulation called refractory on the underside. The lid is one of two that will be placed on the LAW Facility’s two 300-ton waste melters. The lid is 12 feet wide, 22 feet long and 16 inches thick.
To flip the lid, workers used a 15-foot by 25-foot steel frame designed specifically for that purpose by Vit Plant Rigging Engineer Ryan Hoff. The frame holds the lid rigid so that it can be flipped upright without twisting or otherwise damaging the lid or refractory during the flipping process.
The lid will be welded on the first melter later this spring. Then, work will begin on installing the refractory material in the second melter lid.
Nearly 40 Vit Plant employees volunteer throughout the school year to teach Junior Achievement curriculum in local classrooms. The volunteers teach students about financial literacy, work-readiness and entrepreneurship to prepare future leaders and inspire them to value free enterprise, business and economics.
Vit Plant employees make DiscoverE 2016 success
Hanford Vit Plant engineers visited more than 3,000 local students in nearly 150 classrooms as part of DiscoverE 2016. The 38 Vit Plant volunteers accounted for 72 percent of all DiscoverE presentations in the Tri-Cities.
The engineers visited local middle schools to present the benefits of careers in engineering fields to students. DiscoverE is one of the oldest professional outreach efforts in America.
In The Details
By the numbers
With nearly 3,000 employees, the Vit Plant is one of the top employers in the Tri-Cities and boasts an annual payroll of roughly $350 million. The Vit Plant is making a significant impact on the region as it works toward completing its mission of protecting the public and the Columbia River.
Did you know?
At 300 tons each, when completed, the melters in the Low-Activity Waste Vitrification Facility will be the largest nuclear waste glass melters in the world. They are nearly five times larger than the 65-ton melter in operation at the Department of Energy Savannah River Site's Defense Waste Processing Facility in South Carolina.
Watch time-lapse video as Vit Plant employees successfully flip a 28-ton radioactive waste melter lid. The accomplishment is a critical step in the completion of the melters in the Low-Activity Waste Vitrification Facility.