First Low-Activity Waste Commissioning Test Complete
Recently, the Vit Plant team completed the first commissioning test for one of 37 remote-operated cranes inside the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility, bringing the plant one step closer to treating nuclear tank waste.
The commissioning test was also the first for any system inside the LAW Facility. The facility's remote-operated cranes will access plant components, transfer equipment, package materials, bring in empty stainless steel containers, and transport glass-filled containers out of the facility.
The bridge crane that went through commissioning will be used in the LAW process cell area that contains six large vessels. Three of the vessels receive, mix, and feed radioactive tank waste and glass-forming materials into the melters. The others cool the exhaust and remove particulates.
If needed during plant operations, the bridge crane will hover above the process cell area to lift metal floor hatches for access to the process cell below, remove and replace equipment inside the cell, and bundle potentially radioactive-contaminated equipment into waste packages.
In the LAW Facility, concentrated low-activity waste will be mixed with silica and other glass-forming materials. The mixture will be fed into the LAW’s two 300-ton melters and heated to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit. The glass mixture will then be poured into stainless steel containers to cool and solidify.
What is Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste?
Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste is part of the Department of Energy's sequenced approach to treating Hanford’s tank wastes. In this process, low-activity radioactive waste from Hanford tank farms is fed directly to the LAW Facility, and the Vit Plant will be able to begin treating waste as soon as 2023.
What is commissioning?
Commissioning is the fourth of five steps to complete the Vit Plant (engineering, procurement, construction, commisioning, operations). It is the process whereby constructed plant components and systems are verified by testing to meet requirements and placed into service.
The Vit Plant’s Analytical Laboratory team completed a commissioning test of a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration system that uses a new filter design that exceeds nuclear industry standards and requirements.
Finishing the test was a prerequisite for the laboratory team to begin using scientific equipment with radioactive materials, which is required for operations. The plant team and Mississippi State University (MSU) collaborated throughout the design, installation, and multiple types of stringent tests.
HEPA filters are critical to the nuclear industry for their ability to filter airborne contaminants from ventilation and exhaust systems in accordance with state and federal requirements. The filters will also be used in the plant’s Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility.
For testing, the team saturated each HEPA filter with an aerosol spray to simulate potential radioactive contamination, passed air through the filters, and collected and analyzed air samples on the other side to ensure the filters captured the simulant as designed. During future operations, air from the laboratory will flow through the HEPA filters before reaching the building’s environmental exhaust system, where it will then be sampled to ensure it meets Washington State Department of Health standards.
Startup Testing Completed for Uninterruptable Power System
The Vit Plant team completed startup testing on the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility’s uninterruptible power system (UPS) this summer. The UPS is a vital safeguard for the LAW Facility in the unlikely event of a temporary power loss. The UPS is located inside the LAW Facility and provides near-instantaneous backup electricity to plant systems using several sets of large industrial-sized batteries that are charged during normal operations.
Vit Plant Completes Paving Activities
Paving activities recently concluded at the Vit Plant, with the final stretch of nearly 219,000 square feet of asphalt being laid down and striped. The final paving and striping sequence included roadways and parking lots surrounding the Analytical Laboratory and Effluent Management Facility, and a driveway entrance/exit for the Low-Activity Waste Facility transportation staging area.
Learn About the Journey to Melter Heatup
The Journey to Melter Heatup website explains the commissioning process, including critical activities such as the loss of power test and melter heatup process.
The two 300-ton waste melters inside the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility will heat Hanford’s low-activity tank waste and glass-forming materials to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit and transform, or vitrify, it for safe disposal.
Bechtel Sponsors Junior Achievement with a $20,000 Grant
Recently, the Bechtel Group Foundation announced that it donated $20,000 to the Junior Achievement of Washington, Southeastern Washington Chapter (JA). This gift enables Junior Achievement to deliver their free, virtual programs to educators and students to help sustain learning during the pandemic.
Bechtel leadership also participated as speakers for JA’s new free program Lunch With Leaders, where business leaders across the state met with students virtually, discussed their career journey, and answered student questions.
Since 2011, Bechtel has donated a total of $235,000 to Junior Achievement of Washington, Southeastern Washington Chapter, and has contributed $4.5 million to Junior Achievement globally.
Featured Photo: Take Two Campaign Emphasizes Safety Value
Safety is a value at the Vit Plant. Employees were recently asked to identify as many hazards as they could in two minutes in a new timed safety test. The TAKE Two campaign tests employees in a simulated work environment to find as many incorrect safety controls as they can.