04:49 PM

Waste Treatment Plant continues startup progress

About 20 percent of plant utility support systems complete testing phase

Workers at Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) have completed the startup and testing phase for 20 percent of the utility systems needed to support future plant operations.

This work is progressing on an extensive array of process support infrastructure called the plant’s Balance of Facilities (BOF).

“We’re making strong, early progress in starting up, testing, and preparing the industrial utility services that will support WTP,” said Kim Irwin, Bechtel National Inc. (BNI) project manager for WTP. “As engineers and construction crews finish portions of the utilities, they transfer those systems to the startup phase where we verify they are complete, tested, and in safe and working order.”

To prepare the 65-acre site for eventual operations, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of River Protection and WTP contractor BNI are coordinating a concurrent construction, startup, and commissioning approach with the goal of safely beginning treatment of Hanford’s low-activity radioactive tank waste as soon as 2022.

This support infrastructure is housed in 20 BOF support buildings. BOF contains a total of 56 systems, including an electrical power distribution system, backup power, water purification, compressed air, steam, communication and control, and fire water systems.

Of the 56 systems, 11 have successfully completed startup and testing and have transitioned over to the commissioning phase; 28 are in the startup phase; and 17 are nearing construction turnover to startup. This equates to 70 percent of utility systems that workers have transferred from the construction phase to the startup phase.

Currently, startup crews are focused on testing WTP’s electrical and water-distribution systems.

“As systems and subsystems are completed there is a rigorous ‘construction turnover to startup’ that takes place over several weeks where walk-downs, physical inspections, and documentation happen,” said Bill Hamel, WTP Federal Project Director for ORP.

After the startup phase, systems undergo a commissioning phase to ensure they are calibrated and ready to support future plant operations. All WTP facilities, including the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility and the Analytical Laboratory (LAB), will undergo the startup and commissioning process currently underway in the less complicated BOF systems.

The WTP Project is working to begin treating Hanford’s low-activity tank waste as soon as 2022 through DOE’s Direct Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) approach. Nearly all primary components and equipment are installed in the LAW Facility and the facility is on track to complete construction in 2018.

Meanwhile, construction crews continue to work on completing construction of the LAW facility, making minor modifications to LAB systems to support DFLAW operations, and finishing the remaining BOF support systems. Once completed, these remaining systems will transition into the startup phase to support DFLAW.

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