Progress Continues Toward Treatment of Radioactive Waste at DOE’s Hanford Site

Progress Continues Toward Treatment of Radioactive Waste at DOE’s Hanford Site

This is an exciting time at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford site, as the Amentum led Washington River Protection Solutions Company works in tandem with the U.S. Department of Energy to prepare for waste feed delivery to the vitrification plant. We are nearing another milestone in the push to begin “making glass” by completing the needed civil infrastructure for the Tank-Side Cesium Removal system. It is designed to pretreat highly radioactive waste held in aging storage tanks so it can be piped directly to the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant’s Low-Activity Waste.

We completed the final concrete pour for the TSCR pad on Aug. 12. The pad is approximately 55 feet by 120 feet and required more than 4,700 square feet of concrete 12-inches thick. The cesium removal system will be installed in early September. The system was fabricated in South Carolina and tested at the subcontractor’s facility in nearby Richland, Washington.

Completion of acceptance testing was the culminating achievement of 18 months of design and fabrication work. I’m extremely proud of our WRPS team and our subcontractor, who have performed on cost and schedule while following COVID-19 safety protocols. The teams put in a lot of hard work to take this from concept to design to reality, and we’re confident of the result.

The system’s process enclosure holds two filters for straining out solids and three ion exchange columns for removing radioactive cesium from tank waste. During operations, TSCR throughput will be 5 gallons per minute, and about 100,000 curies of radioactivity will be removed per 170,000 gallons of waste. That will require replacing an ion exchange column about every 25 days – spent columns will weigh about 26,000 pounds.

Additional testing will be done when the system is in place on the Hanford site next to double-shell storage tanks that will feed the pretreated waste to the system and store the treated waste until it is sent to the treatment plant. Progress on the pretreatment system puts Hanford another step closer to starting the mission of solidifying tank waste for safe permanent storage.

Here’s a recap video of U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette and U.S. Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar recent visit to the Hanford site: