08:42 AM

Washington state approves Analytical Laboratory operating permit

The Washington State Department of Ecology has approved an operating permit for the Analytical Laboratory at the Hanford Vit Plant.

Approval of the Analytical Laboratory operating permit marks the first major Vit Plant facility to complete all phases of the state’s mandated permit life cycle – from initial design, through groundbreaking and construction, and now to an approved operating permit issued.

Due to the unprecedented scale and complexity of vitrifying Hanford’s radioactive tank waste, the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of River Protection (ORP) and contractor Bechtel National Inc. requested the permit well in advance before the Vit Plant comes online. This ensured the necessary public participation and comment periods could occur, and the permit would be available well before the Vit Plant's Low-Activity Waste vitrification comes online.

The Analytical Laboratory’s key function is to confirm that the glass produced by the Low-Activity Waste vitrification facility meets applicable regulatory requirements and standards.

Under the Direct Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) configuration, the Analytical Laboratory will analyze approximately 3,000 process samples each year. Samples of incoming low-activity radioactive tank waste will be analyzed to confirm the correct glass-former “recipe” that will produce a consistent glass form. Samples will also be taken throughout the vitrification process to confirm a high-quality glass product and good process controls.

As originally envisioned, the Vit Plant would treat high-level and low-activity radioactive waste simultaneously. To begin treating waste as soon as practicable, DOE developed a sequenced approach that would treat low-activity waste first. The sequenced approach is called Direct Feed Low-Activity Waste, or DFLAW. This approach sends low-activity waste from the tank farms directly to the Low-Activity Waste Facility.

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 some of the chemical and radioactive waste stored in 177 underground tanks using a process called vitrification. Visit