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Vit Plant achieves important step toward operations


Bechtel National Inc. attained a significant achievement when it safely brought in permanent power to Building 87, the primary electrical switchgear building at the 65-acre Vit Plant construction site.

The contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) – known as the Vit Plant – recently attained a significant achievement when it safely brought in permanent power to Building 87, the primary electrical switchgear building at the 65-acre WTP construction site.

The installation of a permanent energy supply occurred on Sept. 17 at approximately 8:30 a.m. when the initial breaker was closed from a substation on the Hanford Site connecting site power to the WTP electrical distribution system. By late morning, three remaining breakers were closed, and startup test engineers began system testing of Building 87’s electrical components.

“I’m very pleased to see the progress that continues at the WTP,” said Bill Hamel, Assistant Manager in charge of the WTP at the DOE Office of River Protection. “This accomplishment is the culmination of a lot of hard work by the Bechtel and DOE teams.”

The plant’s four major nuclear facilities, and 21 infrastructure systems and facilities have been operating on temporary power, which is typical for buildings under construction. As the remaining construction for the infrastructure facilities is completed, the facilities will be properly tested and will then be provided additional permanent utilities such as water, compressed air, steam and fire protection.

The successful completion of all infrastructure facilities will enable the plant to operate the WTP Low Activity Waste (LAW) Facility and the Analytical Laboratory, as part of the Direct Feed Low-Activity Waste process, or DFLAW. The Analytical Laboratory is currently 95 percent complete, and construction of the LAW Facility is expected to be complete in mid-2018. Through DFLAW, DOE expects to begin waste treatment as soon as 2022.

Energization of Building 87 represents the transition from temporary construction-phase utilities to permanent utilities that will operate the Vit Plant,” said Bechtel Project Director Peggy McCullough. “We are on track and moving swiftly to completing construction of the Low Activity Waste facility, utility systems, and the portion of the Analytical Laboratory that will support direct feed of low-activity waste.”

Bechtel National Inc. is the DOE contractor in charge of building the plant. Using a process called vitrification, the plant will immobilize millions of gallons of chemical and radioactive waste, currently stored in Hanford’s 177 underground tanks, into glass.

“The pace of construction, startup and commissioning will increase considerably over the next few years,” McCullough said. “Our goal ultimately is to deliver a plant that can treat the waste in a manner that protects the public and the river.”

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About the Office of River Protection

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Hanford Site in southeast Washington State is home to 56 million gallons of chemical and radioactive waste stored in underground tanks -- the result of more than four decades of plutonium production. The O­ffice of River Protection (ORP) is responsible for the retrieval, treatment, and disposal of this waste in a safe, effi­cient manner. The River Protection Project is the largest and most complex environmental remediation project in the nation.

About Bechtel

Bechtel is designing and building the world’s largest radioactive waste treatment plant for the U.S. Department of Energy at the Hanford Site in southeastern Washington state. The Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, also known as the Vit Plant, will immobilize the millions of gallons of radioactive liquid waste stored in 177 underground tanks using a process called vitrification. Visit