09:37 AM

Analytical Laboratory fully energized at Vit Plant

First of Vit Plant’s four primary facilities receives permanent power

Full energization has been safely completed for the Analytical Laboratory at Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, also known as the Vit Plant, making it the first of the plant’s four major nuclear facilities to complete this important step toward startup of the Department of Energy's Direct Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) vitrification approach for treating low-activity tank waste.

Electricity in the facility is now self-contained and flowing through all lights, panels, and outlets. Permanent power will allow employees to begin testing laboratory equipment and ultimately operate the facility.

“Completing this safe energization sets the stage to finish startup testing in the lab and transition to commissioning,” said Felice Presti, Bechtel’s deputy project director at the Vit Plant.

The key function of the laboratory is to analyze samples of incoming low-activity tank waste to confirm the correct glass-former “recipe” will produce a consistent, high-quality glass form. The lab will also confirm the glass produced by the Vit Plant's Low-Activity Waste Facility meets regulatory requirements. The laboratory will analyze approximately 3,000 WTP process samples each year.

The energization process began in late October 2017 with de-energized startup testing of the laboratory’s electrical system. Each system was tested to ensure equipment worked as expected individually and as part of the larger systems before bringing full power online.

“Energizing the facility is a quick process — the push of a button – but the months of preparation and testing by employees to ensure the success and safety of the energization is no small feat,” said Jason Young, the laboratory’s federal project director at the DOE’s Office of River Protection. “When the lights in the electrical panel switched from red to green it signified the culmination of a lot of hard work from the Vit Plant workforce.”

The DFLAW approach is expected to enable treatment of low-activity waste to begin in advance of a court-ordered milestone date of 2023. This approach will increase available double-shell tank space and provide valuable lessons learned to aid startup and commissioning of other portions of the Vit Plant.

About the Office of River Protection

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Hanford Site in southeast Washington state is home to 56 million gallons of chemical and radioactive waste stored in underground tanks – the result of more than four decades of plutonium production. The Office of River Protection (ORP) is responsible for the retrieval, treatment, and disposal of this waste in a safe, efficient manner. The River Protection Project is the largest and most complex environmental remediation project in the nation.

About Bechtel

Bechtel is one of the world’s leading engineering and construction companies, and is designing and building the world’s largest radioactive waste treatment plant for the U.S. Department of Energy at the Hanford Site in southeastern Washington state. The Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, also known as the Vit Plant, will immobilize some of the chemical and radioactive waste stored in 177 underground tanks using a process called vitrification.