We oversee the permitting, construction, and eventual operation of the world’s largest treatment plant for radioactive waste, or the Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP). The plant will encapsulate radioactive and chemical waste from Hanford's underground tanks in glass, and place it for long-term storage in large stainless steel cylinders. The glass will keep the waste stable so it can be safely disposed of without posing significant risk to human health or the environment.
What is vitrification?
The vitrification process converts liquid radioactive and chemical waste into solid glass. The tank waste will be mixed with glass-forming materials, heated to 2,100° F (1,149° C), and poured into large stainless steel containers for cooling and storage.
The vitrification process has been used successfully at other radioactive waste cleanup sites worldwide. However, it has never been used to treat waste as complex as Hanford's, or on such a large scale. The construction site spans 65 acres and includes four major treatment facilities. The Pretreatment Facility, the largest of the buildings, has a footprint equivalent to 1.5 football fields and will be 12 stories tall. The long-term plan is for these containers to be safely stored in a deep geologic repository while radioactivity levels decrease over time.