Operators make 'first contact' from control room
Startup operators in the Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) Low-Activity Waste Facility (LAW) remotely connected to a crane and operated it from the control room for the first time since opening the facility’s annex last summer. In the annex, Commissioning technicians for Bechtel National Inc. subcontractor Waste Treatment Completion Company (WTCC) have been partnering with Startup employees to test equipment in the facility and bring systems online aimed at turning radioactive tank waste safely into glass by 2023.
“You can feel the pace of operations getting quicker, as systems that have been under construction for so long are coming online,” said Jason Young, WTP federal program manager for the Department of Energy's Office of River Protection. “Treating tank waste is complex and multifaceted, and requires a sustained collective commitment to excellence and teamwork. Getting the transfer hoist operational is one more step toward success.”
During operations, the finish line transfer hoist will operate behind a shield door. Employees will operate the 10-ton crane remotely from the LAW control room while viewing through a series of cameras and monitors.
“Movement of the finish line transfer hoist is a great achievement for the project and a major step in the ongoing progress towards vitrifying waste,” said Julian Leam, WTCC senior mechanical handling test engineer. “Making ‘first contact’ was an exciting moment and gives us confidence to move through the rest of the handling systems that will move stainless steel containers through the LAW Facility to be filled with vitrified waste.”
After filling with vitrified waste at the melters and cooling, containers move through the facility to the export bay on a series of tracks called the finishing line. The finish line transfer hoist transfers filled containers between the parallel north and south finishing lines. On the finishing line, the container is sampled, lidded, swabbed to confirm it is clean of contamination, and then transferred to the export area.
In the LAW Facility, low-activity waste will be mixed with silica and other glass-forming materials. The mixture is fed into the LAW’s two 300-ton melters and heated to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit. The glass mixture is then poured into containers that are 4 feet in diameter, 7 feet tall, and weigh just over 7 tons when filled. At full production, the LAW Facility is designed to vitrify 30 metric tons of waste per day, filling five containers.
WTP is working toward waste treatment through the Department of Energy’s Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste program.
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