New control room completed at Hanford’s Vit Plant

New control room completed at Hanford’s Vit Plant

A major tool for spearheading nuclear waste cleanup at the Hanford site is now complete, close to two decades in the making.

U.S. Representatives Dan Newhouse and Kim Schrier, along with representatives from Bechtel National and the Department of Energy held a ribbon cutting for the new Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility annex at the Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (Vit Plant) on Monday.

“The buildings are starting to come alive,” said Tom Fletcher, the Office of River Protection’s assistant manager and federal project director for WTP. “We’re moving from construction to operations.”

Getting a look at the newly finished Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility control room at the @HanfordSite @KAPPKVEW

— Carissa Lehmkuhl (@CarissaKVEW) August 19, 2019

The new annex features a control room that will allow workers to monitor the vitrification of low-level waste in the facility’s two, 30-ton melters. It will also be used to monitor the Analytical Laboratory and 14 of the Vit Plant’s support facilities.

“This new control room demonstrates a key step toward the goal of treating tank waste,” said Rep. Newhouse.

New control room completed at Hanford’s Vit Plant

Valerie McCain, WTP project director for Bechtel National, called it the “brains of the Vit Plant.”

Two phases of commissioning must be completed before the Vit Plant can be brought online. During the cold commissioning phase, a waste simulant will be turned into glass. During the hot phase, the same process will be tested using actual low-level waste.

Cold commissioning is expected to begin in Spring 2021, and hot commissioning will commence after that is complete. Under the Tri-Party Agreement, the deadline to complete commissioning and bring the Vit Plant online is 2023.

Eventually, the Vit Plant is expected to treat high-level and low-level waste simultaneously. About 90 percent of Hanford’s 56 million gallons of underground tank waste is low-level waste.