In Washington state, Bechtel National, Inc. is designing, constructing, and commissioning the world’s largest radioactive waste treatment plant for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). When complete, the Hanford Tank Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, also known as the Vit Plant, will process and stabilize millions of gallons of radioactive and chemical waste currently stored at the Hanford Site.
The 56 million gallons of waste are a byproduct of national defense plutonium-production efforts during World War II and the Cold War era. It resides in 177 aging underground tanks and threaten the nearby Columbia River.
Under DOE’s Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste approach, the low-activity waste in those tanks will be treated and piped to the Vit Plant’s Low-Activity Waste Facility, where it will be vitrified into a solid glass form that is safe and impervious to the environment.
Washington Governor Inslee Visits Vit Plant
Vit Plant and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) leadership recently hosted Washington Governor Jay Inslee during a stop at the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility control room. During the visit, Vit Plant Project Director Val McCain and Site Director Rick Holmes shared progress on our journey to melter heatup. The governor was joined by Washington State Department of Ecology Director Laura Watson and other local Tri-Cities community leaders.
The Vit Plant is Hiring!
The Vit Plant has more than 80 open positions in engineering, procurement, safety, and more! Fully telework and hybrid positions are open, as well as positions at our jobsite north of Richland, Wash., and in our offices in Richland.
People who join the Vit Plant team have the opportunity to be a part of our historic project that will turn the Hanford Site's legacy radioactive waste into a solid glass form that is safe and impervious to the environment. They can take pride in knowing they are part of the solution and protecting the vast Columbia River and surrounding communities.
Watch the Low-Activity Waste Consumable Changeout Boxes
Check out a timelapse video on YouTube of Vit Plant crews moving consumable changeout boxes (CCBs). The CCBs will be used during Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility melter operations for periodic replacement of internal melter components affected by the corrosive environment inside the melter. These components (consumables) include bubbler assemblies, melter feed nozzles, level detectors, and air-lift lances.
Low-Activity Waste Facility Completes Exhaust Treatment System Testing
Workers at the Vit Plant have completed critical testing of the exhaust treatment system, or offgas system, in the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility.
This testing demonstrated that offgas system air valves will function as designed during an abnormal event, such as an unexpected power loss during plant operations. During events such as a power loss, it is necessary to maintain safety systems, like the offgas system, that protect the LAW Facility from hazardous gases generated by the melter during vitrification, when radioactive and chemical waste are mixed with glass-forming materials.
During vitrification, the LAW Facility offgas system will filter, clean, and scrub melter exhaust to ensure worker, public, and environmental safety. Melter exhaust will be treated to remove particulates, mercury, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and acid gases.
Vit Plant Achieves First Test Transfer to Tank Waste Facility
Hanford Site crews recently completed the first transfer of test water from the Vit Plant’s Effluent Management Facility (EMF) to the nearby Liquid Effluent Retention Facility (LERF).
The transfer of 6,000 gallons was the first simulation of the process that will be used to treat secondary liquid waste from the plant’s Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility during Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) Program operations to treat tank waste.
To demonstrate the transfer, Vit Plant crews inside the LAW Facility control room started a delivery sequence, and crews with tank operations contractor Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) began their acceptance protocols at the LERF. These steps released the test water from the EMF, allowing it to travel through underground transfer lines to the LERF.
During vitrification, secondary liquid, called effluent, will be generated by the LAW Facility, the Analytical Laboratory, and when transfer pipes are flushed. The effluent is fed to the EMF, where excess water is boiled away. The water is then piped into holding vessels, where testing ensures it meets waste-acceptance criteria before transfer to the LERF. The remaining waste concentrate is returned to the LAW Facility for treatment.
The United Way recognized Vit Plant contractor Bechtel National, Inc., subcontractor Amentum, and Vit Plant Site Director Rick Holmes for their commitment and positive impact on the Tri-Cities community.
Volunteer of the Year
United Way of Benton and Franklin Counties CEO LoAnn Ayers honored Holmes as Volunteer of the Year for 2021. This award recognizes the “dedication and engagement of an individual for extraordinary support” of the United Way’s mission. Holmes was the board chair during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. He is past board chair in 2022.
Live United Award
Bechtel National Inc. received the 2021 Live United Award for its outstanding leadership through a high level of employee participation in special events, employee campaign, corporate gift or sponsorship, and volunteer engagement, according to the United Way.
Corporate Leadership Award
Amentum received the 2021 Corporate Leadership Award for its “extraordinary focus on community service and corporate social responsibility.” Their team has a high level of involvement by employees in the annual United Way campaign at the Hanford Vit Plant.