13:13 PM

Vit Plant Completes Startup Testing of 2 Melters

The Vit Plant team has completed startup testing of two melters and related support systems in the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility, moving a step closer to transforming, or vitrifying, radioactive and chemical waste from large underground storage tanks into a glass form safe for disposal.

“We are making positive, sustained progress toward ensuring the plant, our people, and the paper — such as procedures — are ready to heat up the first melter later this year,” said Project Director Valerie McCain, senior vice president with EM Office of River Protection (ORP) prime contractor Bechtel National, Inc. “Our team is safely and compliantly demonstrating these systems will be ready to support melter heatup and then cold commissioning in 2022.”

After completing testing, the plant’s startup team handed over the two melters and supporting equipment to the plant management team for commissioning. Following melter heatup, operators will feed simulated waste and glass-forming materials into the melters in a step called cold commissioning. A hot commissioning phase, in which low-activity tank waste will be vitrified, will then occur prior to full operations.

“The plant workforce is expected to complete all startup testing in the Low-Activity Waste Facility in the next several weeks,” said Mat Irwin, ORP deputy assistant manager for the plant. “Commissioning of equipment and systems is already underway in the plant’s various facilities, and we’re all gearing up for the loss of power test this fall.” The loss of power test will demonstrate that all Vit Plant shifts can restore power to facilities and to the melters in a timely and safe manner.

The entire Hanford Site is preparing for a shift to 24/7 operations by the end of 2023, when treatment of tank waste using vitrification is scheduled to start as part of EM’s Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) Program. The DFLAW Program is a system of interdependent projects and infrastructure improvements, managed and highly integrated, that must operate together to vitrify the waste.

During vitrification, waste treated near large underground tanks to remove radioactive cesium and solids will be fed directly to the LAW Facility’s melters. The waste and glass-forming materials will be mixed, heated to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit, and poured into specially designed stainless-steel containers. The containers will be transported a short distance to the site’s Integrated Disposal Facility for disposal.

The 300-ton Hanford melters are each four times larger than the one in operation at EM’s Defense Waste Processing Facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. Hanford’s LAW Facility is designed to vitrify 5,000 gallons of low-activity waste each day — or 1.75 million gallons each year — during full operations after hot commissioning. Startup testing is complete on about 75% of the facility’s 94 systems, which have been turned over to the plant management team for commissioning.

Information on the commissioning process, including a loss of power test and melter heatup, 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 sawest@bechtel.com

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. www.bechtel.com