The state of Washington has issued the permits needed for Bechtel National to complete construction of the final support facility at the Hanford Site’s Waste Treatment Plant to allow treatment of low-activity radioactive waste by a federal court deadline of 2023.
Construction of the plant has advanced significantly, with the concrete walls of the 18,400-square-foot Effluent Management Facility (EMF) completed in April. Workers have been fabricating and assembling equipment and piping rack modules outside the facility to allow work to safely continue within its interior.
“With the major EMF concrete work complete, having the necessary permits now allows us to safely make a series of heavy-crane lifts to install major pieces of process equipment, followed by bulk installation of all remaining commodities,” said Felice Presti, Bechtel National’s deputy project director, in a prepared statement.
Under contract to the Department of Energy, Bechtel National is building the Waste Treatment Plant to process up to 56 million gallons of low-activity and high-level radioactive waste generated by decades of plutonium production at Hanford.
When the plant begins operating, liquids collected from the off-gas system for low-activity waste (LAW) melters will be sent to the EMF, where excess water will be evaporated. The concentrated effluent will then be sent back to the LAW Facility for vitrification.
About 20 support facilities, including the EMF, will support the vit plant’s treatment of low-activity waste. Plans for the EMF were drawn up after DOE moved to the current direct feed low-activity waste (DFLAW) approach for ramping up operations at the Waste Treatment Plant, as its Pretreatment Facility will not be ready to handle the melters’ off-gas effluent. The DFLAW system will enable the plant to begin treating low-activity waste as early as 2022, followed years later by high-level waste processing.
Construction of the Pretreatment Facility has been delayed by technical issues and the plant is not required to be fully operational until 2036. Its total cost is projected near $17 billion.