Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told a House Energy and Commerce energy subcommittee Tuesday the Energy Department continues to make headway on the massive cleanup of its nuclear weapons complex.
“In 2018, we will continue to make progress on key facilities and capabilities,” Brouillette said during a hearing on DOE modernization.
For example, DOE continues to make strides at the Hanford Site in Washington state on sections of the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant needed for the Direct Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) approach. This is vital to beginning actual tank waste treatment of up to 56 million gallons of radioactive and chemical waste stored at Hanford, Brouillette said.
Bechtel National is the prime contractor for building and commissioning the 65-acre WTP. The original plan was for the vitrification plant to treat high-level and low-activity radioactive waste at the same time. The current approach emphasizes a phased approach to treat low-activity waste first, starting as soon as 2022.
The Energy Department also plans to ramp up shipments of transuranic waste (TRU) to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, N.M. WIPP was offline for nearly three years following an underground fire and radiological release in February 2014. It reopened in December 2016 and resumed waste disposal from other DOE sites in April 2017.
The federal agency also has advancing toward mercury cleanup at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., breaking ground on a treatment facility in November, Brouillette said. The deputy secretary added that decontamination and decommissioning continue at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Ohio, led by a Fluor-BWX Technologies partnership.