Journey to Melter Heatup
The Department of Energy’s Hanford Vit Plant is on a journey to heat up the first of two melters, considered the heart of a process that transforms nuclear waste into a glass form safe for storage. This process – called vitrification – will help protect our environment and rivershore communities from Hanford’s legacy waste. Follow us on this journey toward achieving Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste in 2023, which follows a process called Commissioning to reach operations.
Commissioning is fully underway. Learn more about key steps along the Commissioning road with these interactive waypoints, below.
The Hanford Vit Plant team recently finished all startup testing and system handovers for the Effluent Management Facility (EMF), marking its full transition into the commissioning phase. After startup testing for each EMF system was finished, the startup team documented the results, and each system was handed over to the plant management team to initiate commissioning. The commissioning phase ensures the utilities and process systems are integrated and ready to support future plant operations. The only remaining DFLAW startup activities are within the Low-Activity Waste Facility, which houses the melters.
The Hanford Vit Plant team has finished creating almost 5,500 step-by-step procedures required for operation of Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) systems and facilities needed for Hanford’s Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) approach to tank waste treatment.
The word “rad” has finally arrived at the Hanford Vit Plant, and it’s not for a 1980s throwback. Instead, more than 450 workers at the plant will receive radiological, or “rad,” worker training as the plant nears commissioning, when operators will run a nonradioactive waste simulant through the plant to ensure systems are working properly.
Bechtel National, Inc. (BNI) is hiring and training dozens of laboratory and radiological technicians at Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant to prepare for cold commissioning, when operators will run a non-radioactive waste simulant through the plant to ensure systems are working properly. The first class of 12 new laboratory technicians is in training.
The Vit Plant team has started training commissioning technicians and supervisors to monitor and manage the two 300-ton melters in the Low-Activity Waste Facility that are at the heart of the process of vitrifying, or immobilizing in glass, Hanford tank waste using the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) approach. Twenty commissioning technicians and four control room supervisors recently began their training at the plant’s simulator building, an offsite duplicate of the LAW Facility control room.
Considered the “heart” of the Low-Activity Waste Facility, two 300-ton nuclear waste melters – the largest nuclear industry melters in the world – will be used to heat Hanford’s low-activity tank waste and glass-forming materials to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The heated mixture is then poured into stainless steel containers for permanent storage – a process called vitrification. Employees have finished assembly of the melters and these key pieces of equipment are now undergoing extensive startup and commissioning testing to ensure successful melter heatup and operation.