Practice Makes Perfect: Vit Plant Drills for Long-Term Success
Staff conducted the drill as part of the plant’s Operations Drill Program, which is designed to ensure Vit Plant personnel are prepared to respond to events that could compromise the plant’s operability.
“The program is built to promote a strong, long-lasting operational culture,” said Tom Fletcher, EM Office of River Protection assistant manager and federal project director for the Vit Plant. “It’s a key piece in preparing the team and site for future direct-feed low-activity waste (DFLAW) operations to treat radioactive and chemical waste from large, underground storage tanks.”
The program team holds a drill at least once per week, rotating through the operations shift crews and pulling from a wide variety of systems and possible situations. New drill scenarios are created regularly.
“Our program covers any plant system or event not included in the emergency preparedness drill scope,” said Arnoldo Saenz, the Vit Plant operations support specialist who runs the program. “We cover everything from the melter control systems to support systems like cooling water. If it can go wrong, we drill for it.”
During DFLAW operations, treated waste from Hanford’s underground storage tanks will be fed directly to melters inside the Vit Plant’s Low-Activity Waste Facility. The waste will be mixed with glass-forming materials and heated in the melters in a process known as vitrification, then poured into specially designed stainless steel containers for disposal at Hanford’s Integrated Disposal Facility.
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