Hanford VIT Plant

Hanford Virtual Site Tour

To zoom, hover your mouse over the text and images on the display. The text is also available below.

Waste Treatment Plant: Vit Plant
PDF version

Waste Treatment Plant: Vit Plant

The Waste Treatment Plant or “Vit Plant” will be the world’s largest plant of its kind to turn radioactive and chemical waste into stable glass. An unprecedented engineering and construction challenge, Bechtel National, Inc., and its principle subcontractor, URS, are designing, building, and commissioning the vast plant complex for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Covering 65 acres, the Vit Plant consists of three major processing facilities, an analytical laboratory, 20 support buildings, and underground utilities. The first treatment step is pumping the waste from underground storage tanks through a buried pipeline to the Pretreatment Facility.

The Pretreatment Facility separates the high-level radioactive waste from the low-activity waste. High-level waste (HLW) is generally in the solids portion of the tank waste. It contains most of the radioactivity in a relatively small volume of material.

Low-activity waste (LAW) is generally in the liquid portion of the tank waste. It contains a relatively small amount of radioactivity in a large volume of material.

In the vitrification process, the radioactive waste is blended into the glass itself. It cannot crystallize or leach out. The molten glass is encased in stainless steel canisters. The waste will remain stable and impervious to the environment while its radioactivity dissipates over a period ranging from hundreds to thousands of years.

This technology has been successfully employed in France and England and at the U.S. Department of Energy’s West Valley Demonstration Project in New York and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. For more information, see Vitrification 101.

NOTE: The description provided is based off a fully functional Vit Plant with all four nuclear facilities in operation. An alternative approach that enables the Vit Plant to start processing Hanford's low-activity waste will be used before that. More information on Direct Feed Low-Activity Waste will be provided in a later release.

View additional displays in this section:

Return to virtual open house home

The Waste Treatment Plant or “Vit Plant” will be the world’s largest plant of its kind to turn radioactive and chemical waste into stable glass. An unprecedented engineering and construction challenge, Bechtel National, Inc., and its principle subcontractor, URS, are designing, building, and commissioning the vast plant complex for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Covering 65 acres, the Vit Plant consists of three major processing facilities, an analytical laboratory, 20 support buildings, and underground utilities. The first treatment step is pumping the waste from underground storage tanks through a buried pipeline to the Pretreatment Facility.

The Pretreatment Facility separates the high-level radioactive waste from the low-activity waste. High-level waste (HLW) is generally in the solids portion of the tank waste. It contains most of the radioactivity in a relatively small volume of material.

Low-activity waste (LAW) is generally in the liquid portion of the tank waste. It contains a relatively small amount of radioactivity in a large volume of material.

In the vitrification process, the radioactive waste is blended into the glass itself. It cannot crystallize or leach out. The molten glass is encased in stainless steel canisters. The waste will remain stable and impervious to the environment while its radioactivity dissipates over a period ranging from hundreds to thousands of years.

This technology has been successfully employed in France and England and at the U.S. Department of Energy’s West Valley Demonstration Project in New York and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

Hanford

Hanford

Hanford

Hanford

Hanford

Hanford