11:48 AM

Team Kicks Off Melter Training

Plant Manager Kent Smith
Our operators and supervisors will be fully versed in running the melters and the off-gas and ventilation systems.
Plant Manager Kent Smith

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Vit Plant team has started training commissioning technicians and supervisors to monitor and manage the two 300-ton melters in the Low-Activity Waste Facility that are at the heart of the process of vitrifying, or immobilizing in glass, Hanford tank waste using the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) approach.

Twenty commissioning technicians and four control room supervisors recently began their training at the plant’s simulator building, an offsite duplicate of the LAW Facility control room. The courses are readying staff to meet two of this year’s key milestones in preparations to bring the world’s largest radioactive waste vitrification facility online: a Loss of Power test followed by heating up the first of the two melters.

“Once we heat up a melter, it needs to stay hot until we start treating tank waste,” said Mat Irwin, Department of Energy Office of River Protection deputy assistant manager for WTP. “We are establishing contingencies, but the impacts to the project if we lose a melter are significant. We need to successfully keep the melters hot until they wear out and we replace them with new melters.”

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.

During future plant operations, the pair of 300-ton melters will use electricity to heat tank waste and glass-forming materials to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit. The molten mixture will be poured into large stainless-steel containers that will be sealed and transported to Hanford’s nearby Integrated Disposal Facility.

“Once a melter goes hot, our operators need to be ready to respond quickly and decisively in the unlikely event of a loss of power,” said Kent Smith, plant manager for Bechtel subcontractor Waste Treatment Completion Company (WTCC). “By the time we’re ready to conduct the Loss of Power test, our operators and supervisors will be fully versed in running the melters and the off-gas and ventilation systems.”

The DFLAW approach is a system of interdependent projects and infrastructure improvements, managed and highly integrated as a program, that must operate together successfully to vitrify Hanford tank waste.

Commissioning technicians, shift managers and supervisors will also receive classroom training in operational safety protocols that ensure hazards are mitigated. Jobsite training will follow. Staff members are also developing a training course in Loss of Power response for rollout in the classroom this spring.

“We use a systematic ‘ADDIE’ approach in our training,” said Steve Goodrich, WTCC operations training supervisor. “ADDIE stands for analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation.”

Accordingly, before each classroom training session, the training team analyzes the employees’ jobs and tasks and creates a list of materials and documents that support performing those tasks. Then the training group develops lesson plans and training aids and delivers the training in the classroom or on the jobsite. Employees take tests to check their knowledge, periodically take refresher courses, and provide feedback to continuously improve the training.

About Bechtel National, Inc.:

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