Office of Environmental Management

04/09/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/09/2024 15:30

Hanford Plant Brings Second Melter Online

Workers with the Hanford Site's Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant inspect one of the plant's large melters during its heatup process.

RICHLAND, Wash. - Crews at the Hanford Site's Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) recently brought the second of two 300-ton melters up to the operating temperature of 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit as part of EM's Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste Program.

The achievement represents significant progress toward starting plant operations to immobilize in glass millions of gallons of radioactive and chemical waste from large underground tanks.

"Heating up the second melter is an important achievement for our Hanford team and represents another critical step in our journey to safe and efficient tank waste immobilization and disposal," said Brian Vance, EM Office of River Protection and Richland Operations Office manager. "This success is the culmination of years of effort by our talented workforce, past and present, representing our commitment to advancing our cleanup mission and delivering taxpayer value."

Staff at the Hanford Site's Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant are pictured inside the plant's control room during heatup of the plant's second of two melters.

WTP personnel began heating up the melter on March 12 by turning on 18 temporary startup heaters. The melter temperature was then gradually raised, reaching an operating temperature of 2,100 degrees on March 23. WTP personnel will allow the melter to stabilize at this temperature before small glass beads, known as frit, are loaded into the melter to establish a molten pool of glass.

Crews will then remove the startup heaters in the top of the melter and replace them with bubblers that circulate air in the molten glass and help maintain an even temperature.

EM Hanford contractor Bechtel National Inc. is commissioning the WTP.

"We are immensely proud of the heatup of Melter 2," said Brian Hartman, Bechtel senior vice president and project director for WTP. "This milestone reflects the dedication, expertise and collaborative spirit of our employees, contractors and partner, the Department of Energy. By incorporating the lessons learned from the first melter, we have reached this historic milestone safely and efficiently, underscoring our commitment to excellence and safety."

After running clean glass through the second melter, both melters and facility systems will go through several months of testing using simulated waste. Plant personnel will then run tests on the facility's exhaust systems that remove contaminants.

When hot commissioning begins next year, tank waste treated to remove radioactive cesium and solids will be fed to the melters and mixed with the molten glass. That mixture will be poured into stainless steel containers to cool prior to transporting them the short distance to Hanford's Integrated Disposal Facility.

Information on the WTP commissioning process is available on the Journey to Melter Heatup website. The plant facilities can be viewed using the self-guided Hanford Virtual Tour.

-Contributor: Tyler Oates

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