Richland, WA,
11:50 AM

Molten Glass Fills Vit Plant Melter

Frit Sample

The Vit Plant team last week poured the first batches of glass-forming beads, called frit, into a melter heated to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temperature, the beads melted and created the first molten pool inside the melter, which during future hot operations will immobilize radioactive and chemical tank waste in a form safe for permanent disposal.

The accomplishment represents another positive step toward waste treatment operations at the Vit Plant’s Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility as part of DOE’s Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste program at Hanford.

“This is a proud time for our Hanford team as we have established a molten glass pool in our first melter,” said Hanford Site Manager Brian Vance. “It’s a tremendous success made possible through the entire team’s dedication to safely progressing our important cleanup mission.”

Two 300-ton melters inside the LAW Facility are the heart of the vitrification process, which will immobilize the tank waste in glass. During vitrification, treated waste will be fed to the melter and then mixed with glass-forming materials heated to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit and poured into specially designed stainless-steel containers. The containers will then be moved a short distance to the Integrated Disposal Facility at the Hanford Site for disposal.

“Our team is excited about furthering our progress in achieving continuous melter operations,” said Brian Hartman, Vit Plant project director and senior vice president for Bechtel, which is designing, building, and commissioning the plant for the EM Office of River Protection.

On June 24, the team initiated heat up of the first melter and over a multiweek process slowly ramped to the 2,100-degree operating temperature.

Vance said many DOE and One Hanford team members, past and present, contributed to the important achievement.

“This accomplishment, and the many others delivered daily across the Hanford Site, reflect the expertise and commitment to excellence shown by our talented One Hanford team of dedicated professionals,” Vance said.

A total of about 40,000 pounds of frit will be added to create a molten pool about 31 inches deep.

Information on the Vit Plant commissioning process is available on the Journey to Melter Heatup website. The plant facilities can be viewed using the self-guided Hanford Virtual Tour.

Contact: Staci A. West, 509-378-0308 or

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. Bechtel serves the Infrastructure; Nuclear, Security & Environmental; Oil, Gas & Chemicals; and Mining & Metals markets. Our services span from initial planning and investment, through start-up and operations.