A Startup electrician safely opens a utility systems control panel. Workers have transferred 70 percent of utility systems from the construction phase to the startup phase.
Workers at the Vit Plant have completed the startup and testing phase for 20 percent of the utility systems needed to support future plant operations.
This work is progressing on an extensive array of process support infrastructure called the plant’s Balance of Facilities (BOF).
BOF contains a total of 56 systems, including an electrical power distribution system, backup power, water purification, compressed air, steam, communication and control, and fire water systems.
Of the 56 systems, 11 have successfully completed startup and testing and have transitioned over to the commissioning phase; 28 are in the startup phase; and 17 are nearing construction turnover to startup.
DECEMBER: Team designs new filter to improve Vit Plant safety
The first-of-a-kind radial HEPA filters developed by the Vit Plant team are roughly 2.5-feet tall and 2 feet in diameter.
A team of engineers from Bechtel National Inc. and the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of River Protection joined industry and academia experts to develop a first-of-a-kind high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter for the Vit Plant.
The filter is at least five times stronger than a standard HEPA filter and meets or exceeds Vit Plant standards and codes set by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
It could be of use across the DOE nuclear complex. The Office of Environmental Management is considering additional uses for the new filter at its sites due to its potential to survive smoke loading from facility fires, heavy dust loading, and pressure generated during severe events at nuclear facilities.
Read more about the development and testing of these critical pieces of equipment at http://bit.ly/2ASQ3g1.
OCTOBER: Team completes testing for switchgear building
The Hanford Vit Plant Project Team concluded startup functional testing of Building 91. The switchgear building provides electrical support to the more than 20 support structures of the Vit Plant's Balance of Facilities.
Building 91 was energized early in March 2017. Employees with the engineering, construction, startup, and plant management departments of contractors Bechtel and AECOM achieved this project goal in late September 2017.
OCTOBER: Radioactive waste melters assembled inside Vit Plant
One of two 300-ton melters installed in the Low-Activity Waste Facility.
Key pieces of equipment that will be used to treat radioactive tank waste at the Hanford Site have now been safely and successfully assembled at the Hanford Vit Plant.
The Department of Energy’s Office of River Protection (ORP) and Vit Plant contractor Bechtel National Inc. (BNI) announced the successful completion of assembly of the two nuclear waste melters, each at 300 tons, inside the LAW Facility.
“Assembling the melters is another indication we are completing the work necessary to achieve the Department’s Direct Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) approach to begin treating Hanford tank waste,” said Acting ORP Manager Ben Harp. “This approach will enable us to provide a more enduring means of protecting the Columbia River by starting treatment of the low-activity radioactive waste, the most mobile of the waste, as soon as 2022.”
Workers achieved assembly of the first melter in May, and finished the second in late August – both were accomplished ahead of schedule.
OCTOBER: Pretreatment Facility vessel testing wraps up
Employees from the Office of River Protection, Bechtel National, AECOM, and Atkins Engineering celebrate the completion test operations for the final phase of full-scale testing of pulse jet mixer vessels and control systems.
The final phase of full-scale testing has wrapped up for the pulse jet mixer (PJM) vessels and control systems intended for use in the Hanford Vit Plant's Pretreatment Facility.
The PJM vessels and control systems are designed to safely mix radioactive tank waste as it moves through the Pretreatment Facility. The results of the recently completed testing will be used to inform the final design of the vessels intended to be used at the facility.
“Addressing the technical questions surrounding PJMs is an important accomplishment on the Pretreatment Facility,” said Bill Hamel, Federal Project Director for the Vit Plant at the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of River Protection. “The collaboration among DOE and contractors over the four years of testing should be a model for how we do business.”
The Balance of Facilities’ switchgear building, also known as Building 91, was energized in March. It provides electrical support to Balance of Facilities structures.
Bechtel National Inc. (BNI) energized the Balance of Facilities (BOF) switchgear building, Building 91, one of the more than 20 structures that make up the Balance of Facilities at the Hanford Vit Plant, and one of two switchgear buildings providing power to the Vit Plant.
Building 91 provides electrical support for BOF structures that will provide utilities and services such as steam, air and water to the Vit Plant vitrification facilities. With its energization, permanent plant low-voltage power (480V) was provided to the Water Treatment Building and the Nonradioactive Liquid Waste Drain Pump House this month.
MARCH: Vit Plant achieves first contract milestone of 2017
Vit Plant employees hand-maneuvered the caustic scrubber into position at the LAW Facility.
Bechtel National Inc. (BNI) achieved its first contract milestone of 2017 when employees completed installation of the caustic scrubber, a 19-ton piece of vitrification melter offgas exhaust equipment, in the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility in March.
The caustic scrubber was the final piece of a system that will treat LAW Facility exhaust to ensure it meets air quality requirements. With the caustic scrubber’s installation, work crews can now complete the subsequent work of installing the remainder of plant items and equipment in the LAW Facility.
“It is very rewarding to see the continued progress we are making toward completing the LAW Facility construction,” said Bill Hamel, WTP Federal Project Director for the Department of Energy Office of River Protection.
Other components of the LAW Facility offgas treatment system, including the thermal catalytic oxidizer and ammonia dilution skid, can be seen in the Vit Plant Virtual Tour.
Vit Plant employees, together with Bechtel and AECOM, donated nearly $800,000 to Tri-Cities area charitable organizations and programs in 2017.
Employee donations in 2017 included $400,000 to the United Way of Benton-Franklin Counties, $28,000 to Second Harvest, and $24,000 to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots campaign. Additional support went to the March of Dimes, Junior Achievement, and the Giving Tree program that benefits children in foster care.
The giving includes nearly $300,000 in corporate contributions by Bechtel and AECOM.
Vit Plant employees also volunteered thousands of hours throughout the community.
Bechtel steps up to help Tri-Cities build performing arts center
With a donation of $30,000 to help build the Vista Arts Center, Bechtel National Inc. (BNI), is demonstrating its commitment to transform the Tri-Cities through a performing and visual arts center.
“Bechtel has been a part of the Tri-Cities community for more than 40 years. We believe the arts are a key component of a culturally vibrant community, and we want to invest in its future,” said Peggy McCullough, BNI senior vice president. “The arts spark creativity and innovation and bridge time and distance.”
Take a tour inside the massive, first-of-a-kind Waste Treatment Plant, also known as the Vit Plant, under construction at the Hanford Site in southeastern Washington state. The plant encompasses 65-acres and, once in operation, will use a process called vitrification to solidify millions of gallons of nuclear waste left over from World War II and Cold War-era defense programs.