08:25 AM

Vit Plant support facility approved to finish construction

The Washington State Department of Ecology has granted the permits needed for Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP), or Vit Plant, to finish construction of an effluent management facility (EMF).

EMF is the final WTP Balance of Facilities support building required to deliver the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Direct Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) vitrification approach.

The permits enable DOE’s Office of River Protection (ORP) and contractor Bechtel National Inc. (BNI) to install mechanical and piping systems inside the EMF. This work includes process tanks, pumps, pre-fabricated piping modules, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning ducts, and other equipment.


With the major EMF concrete work complete, having the necessary permits now allows us to safely make a series of heavy-crane lifts to install major pieces of process equipment, followed by bulk installation of all remaining commodities.
Felice Presti, BNI’s deputy project director for WTP

EMF work crews are pre-fabricating and pre-assembling many of the equipment and pipe rack modules outside the facility before lifting them into place inside. This allows installation work to continue inside the building, making more efficient use of space and enhancing safety.

During vitrification operations, secondary liquids will be generated from the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility melter off-gas system. These liquids will then go to the EMF where excess water is evaporated and transferred to the nearby Liquid Effluent Retention Facility, while the remaining concentrate is sent back into the vitrification process.

“The permit approvals for EMF are another key step toward achieving the start of DFLAW as soon as possible,” said Jason Young, ORP’s federal project director for the EMF. “We are nearing construction completion on the LAW Facility and are now working to perform startup testing on individual systems. Additionally, more than 80 percent of the systems for the Analytical Laboratory have initiated component testing, and nearly half of the Balance of Facilities systems have completed startup testing and are well into the early commissioning phase.”

The DFLAW approach is expected to enable treatment of low-activity waste to begin in advance of a court-ordered milestone date of 2023. This approach will increase available double-shell tank space and provide valuable lessons learned to aid startup and commissioning of other portions of the WTP.

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 one of the world’s leading engineering and construction companies, and 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 some of the chemical and radioactive waste stored in 177 underground tanks using a process called vitrification.