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Cleanup Progresses at the Office of River Protection

December 24, 2013 - 12:00pm

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The concrete “core” is removed from Tank C-105 after workers cut a 55-inch hole in the tank dome.

The concrete “core” is removed from Tank C-105 after workers cut a 55-inch hole in the tank dome.

A composite image of dozens of individual-frame photos taken inside Tank C-110 provides a rare panoramic view of its interior. Portions of the tank floor and the Foldtrack waste-retrieval system are clearly visible.

A composite image of dozens of individual-frame photos taken inside Tank C-110 provides a rare panoramic view of its interior. Portions of the tank floor and the Foldtrack waste-retrieval system are clearly visible.

The concrete “core” is removed from Tank C-105 after workers cut a 55-inch hole in the tank dome.
A composite image of dozens of individual-frame photos taken inside Tank C-110 provides a rare panoramic view of its interior. Portions of the tank floor and the Foldtrack waste-retrieval system are clearly visible.

RICHLAND, Wash. – EM’s Office of River Protection’s (ORP) mission continues: to retrieve, treat and dispose of the 56 million gallons of radioactive and chemical waste stored in large, underground tanks. In 2013, ORP maintained steady progress toward the successful completion of its mission.

  • Retrieval in C-110: ORP’s tank farm contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions, retrieved Tank C-110 to a level below the regulatory requirement. ORP is in the process of submitting the required Certification of Completion of C-110 to the Washington State Department of Ecology. Retrieval in C-110 was executed using a more robust Foldtrack, a remotely operated, track-mounted device featuring a plow-blade and several types of water nozzles, to break down the difficult-to-remove, hard-heel waste on the tank floor and move it closer to the tank pump for transfer into a double-shell tank. Tank C-110 retrieval also included a newly-installed, hot-water skid to support operations, and a unique clamshell sampling apparatus used in conjunction with the redesigned Foldtrack for the first time to obtain post-retrieval samples in C-110. The combined technologies resulted in significant savings in time and cost.
  • C-105 Dome Cut: Crews successfully cut a hole in the top of an active radioactive waste storage tank at Hanford, allowing for the eventual installation of the first-of-its-kind Mobile Arm Retrieval System (MARS) Vacuum retrieval technology. Workers cut a 55-inch hole through 17 inches of concrete and rebar using a rotary core cutting system, which featured a laser-guided steel canister with teeth on the bottom to drill a circle into the C-105 tank dome. To gain access to the tank dome, crews had to excavate down seven feet to the top of the tank. As the cut was made and the concrete plug removed, crews installed a shield plate over the top of the hole to protect workers.
  • Chiller/Compressor Plant Construction Completion: The prime contractor for the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP), Bechtel National, Inc., notified ORP in late 2013 that construction was complete on the Chiller/Compressor Plant. The facility houses equipment that supplies chilled water and compressed air for utility services to WTP facilities, including the Pretreatment (PT), High-Level Waste (HLW) and Low-Activity Waste (LAW) vitrification facilities and Analytical Laboratory (Lab). Major components of the chill water system include package chiller units, distribution pumps and piping. The Plant Service Air (PSA) system provides a continuous supply of clean, dry air in proper pressure and temperature to the PT, HLW, LAW and Lab. Each plant has its own air distribution system once PSA enters the plant.  Plant systems split PSA into Instrument and Service air systems. DOE is currently verifying Bechtel’s declaration of construction complete.
  • In September, EM released the Framework document for ORP, outlining a phased approach for beginning tank waste treatment while continuing to resolve technical issues with the PT and HLW facilities. The phased approach described in the Framework would start with immobilizing the low-activity portion of the waste. By beginning waste vitrification sooner and developing alternative waste treatment pathways, the Framework describes a path forward that could complete the tank waste mission sooner, compared to waiting until all technical issues are resolved and the PT facility is completed.

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