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DOE May Build Underground Pre-Treatment Plant at Hanford Site

DOE considering new plant to deal with waste
(Courtesy KNDU TV)

The pre-treatment plant would allow some liquid wastes to be taken care of while tech issues are fixed in VIT plant.

The DOE laid out a plan for the plant, which would be build underground to help protect from potential radiation issues.   DOE is considering using such a plant to treat some what is called “low-activity” liquid waste by removing it from the storage tanks at Hanford.   Early treatment of low-level waste has been looked at for over a decade, but it was not until 2008 that a two-step process was developed that could get the liquids out.  They are suspended, or sitting, on top of the solid more hazardous waste in the Hanford storage tanks.  This waste could potentially be treated when the Low Waste Activity unit is completed, perhaps as early as next year.

This would allow what is called glassification to begin earlier.   Glassification is the process of treating the waste then converting it into glass logs that would be stored  at the Hanford Integrated Disposal Facility, which is a landfill already designed and built for the waste.

This would also allow this waste to be treated and readied for disposal, and could relieve some of the storage issues in the newer double-shell tanks.   Waste is being pumped out of the dozens of older single-shell tanks to prevent leaks.

Washington River Protection Services, the DOE contractor, has been instructed to prepare and cost and technical proposal of an interim pre-treatment system.

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