09:04 AM

Hanford receives 40-ton steel tower to keep Vit Plant on pace

Bechtel National Inc. (BNI) safely unloaded more than 40-tons of structural steel for a tower that arrived to Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, also known as the Vit Plant. The tower will house evaporator equipment that supports the Department of Energy’s (DOE) plans to begin treating tank waste through its Direct Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) vitrification approach.

Once fully erected the tower will stand 45-feet tall, 20-feet wide, and 20-feet long. The tower steel was fabricated in Idaho Falls, Idaho, received a special chemical-resistant coating in Great Falls, Montana, and was then transported to the Vit Plant jobsite via 16 heavy-haul trailers.

The tower will serve as structural support for evaporator equipment that will be installed inside an effluent management facility (EMF). The EMF works along with robust underground double-walled transfer pipes as part of the Vit Plant's Balance of Facilities (BOF) support infrastructure.

“The arrival of the evaporator tower steel is yet another sign of progress for EMF, which is critical to achieving the start of DFLAW,” said Jason Young, Office of River Protection BOF federal project director.

During low-activity waste vitrification operations, secondary liquids will be generated from the melter off-gas system and when transfer pipes are flushed. These liquids will go to EMF where excess water will be evaporated away and the remaining concentrate sent back into the vitrification process.

Once the tower is fully assembled with its internal evaporator equipment, construction crews will hoist the entire unit and safely set it inside EMF.

“We recently completed the walls for the effluent management facility,” said Brian Reilly, a Bechtel senior vice president and BNI project director for the Vit Plant. “Receiving the necessary permit authorization will open the gateway to install equipment into the building and continue Balance of Facilities construction progress.”

DOE’s DFLAW approach will enable treatment of low-activity waste as soon as the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) vitrification facility, relevant support facilities, and the Analytical Laboratory (LAB), are operational in advance of completion of the entire Vit Plant as was originally planned. Construction is largely complete for the LAB and a collection of more than 20 support facilities – some portions of the LAW Facility, LAB, and support facilities are undergoing systems testing and startup activities.

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 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. Visit