12:17 PM

New Website Highlights Melter ‘Heatup’

Learn about next steps toward processing low-activity waste


RICHLAND, Wash. – As the Vit Plant team moves closer to starting up the first of two melters inside the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility, Bechtel National, Inc. today launches a new website that explains the commissioning process, including critical activities such as the loss of power test and melter heatup process.

“We want our key stakeholders and local community to understand the steps being taken to ensure a safe, quality, and effective heatup of the first melter,” said Mat Irwin, Department of Energy Office of River Protection deputy assistant manager for the plant. “We are approaching a 24/7 operational situation at a pace not seen at the Hanford Site in many years. We’re excited to deliver on this commitment to our community.”

The two 300-ton waste melters inside the 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. Vitrify means immobilizing the waste and materials within a glass form. The loss of power test will demonstrate the team is able to protect the melter by putting the LAW Facility into safe condition and restoring power before any damage to the melter occurs. 

The Journey to Melter Heatup website includes information such as:

  • The many activities that must be completed to enable melter heatup, such as installing key equipment and tuning the exhaust system.
  • Definitions of common melter heatup terminology.
  • Key facts such as how many days it takes to bring the melter up to target temperature.
  • The latest news on progress toward heatup.

For example, initial heatup of the melter takes about 22 days, followed by several days of testing with the addition of glass startup materials that melt at low temperatures, and then another 30 days of feeding in glass-forming materials.

Melter heatup will culminate 2021’s progress toward starting Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) treatment by the end of 2023. DFLAW is a system of interdependent projects and infrastructure improvements, managed and highly integrated as a program, that must operate together to vitrify low-activity waste.

About Bechtel National, Inc.:

Bechtel is a trusted engineering, construction and project management partner to industry and government. Differentiated by the quality of our people and our relentless drive to deliver the most successful outcomes, we align our capabilities to our customers’ objectives to create a lasting positive impact. Since 1898, we have helped customers complete more than 25,000 projects in 160 countries on all seven continents that have created jobs, grown economies, improved the resiliency of the world's infrastructure, increased access to energy, resources, and vital services, and made the world a safer, cleaner place.