17:08 PM

Vit Plant Team Finishes LAW Facility Construction

WTP LAW Facility Container Handling System

The Department of Energy and contractor Bechtel National, Inc. have completed construction of the last of 94 systems in the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility at the Hanford Vit Plant, known as the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant.

“Workers continue to make good progress at the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant,” said Tom Fletcher, assistant manager for WTP at DOE’s Office of River Protection. “Completing construction and startup testing of systems at the LAW Facility is another important step in our preparations to treat tank waste at Hanford.”

The systems include a mechanical line for moving empty containers below melters where they will be filled with tank waste that has been vitrified, or immobilized in glass.

This video shows WTP crews testing the LAW Facility container handling system.

As construction of the systems has been completed, they have been turned over to a startup testing team to ensure they work properly prior to commissioning. Of the 94 LAW Facility systems, about a third of them have been tested and handed over to plant management for commissioning.

The LAW Facility is the size of one-and-a-half football fields and houses two large melters. The melters will vitrify low-activity tank waste that will be pretreated to remove cesium and solids at the tank farms and fed directly to the LAW Facility. The approach, called Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste, is a system of interdependent projects and infrastructure improvements, managed and highly integrated as a program, that must operate together successfully to vitrify Hanford’s low-activity tank waste.

The next goal for completing construction and turning over WTP facilities to startup testing is the LAW Facility itself, and EM and Bechtel are expected to reach that goal in the next few weeks.

Earlier this year, WTP staff finished startup testing at the plant’s Analytical Laboratory, which will analyze up to 3,000 samples of waste each year to make sure it meets disposal requirements. Another 14 support facilities that provide utilities such as power, compressed air, and steam are near the end of startup testing and are nearly ready for commissioning.

Startup testing verifies that the equipment and systems are functional and in safe working order before being handed over to plant management for commissioning. The commissioning phase ensures the utilities, equipment, and process systems are integrated and ready to support future DFLAW operations.

“The perseverance of our entire team this year has been amazing to get where we are today,” said Valerie McCain, project director and senior vice president of Bechtel. “This accomplishment wouldn’t have been possible without our entire team’s commitment to quality, safety, and progress.”