Hanford workers preparing to use MARS - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Hanford workers preparing to use MARS

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NEAR RICHLAND, Wash.-- Hanford workers are preparing to use the first Mobile Arm Retrieval System, also known as MARS, to retrieve and transfer waste from holding tanks.

The 16 tanks of toxic sludge at one Hanford tank farm will be transferred from single shell tanks to double shell. The process is necessary to prevent any radioactive material from leaking.

Already 13 at the one farm have been transferred. Next are the 247,000 gallons of sludge in tank C-107. However, the usual 3 stages in transferring won't be used.

MARS will be used in the summer of 2011, but before the robotic arm can be installed, a 55 inch diameter hole will be cut in the top of the tank. The process is expected to take about 24 hours.

Hanford workers have been test cutting and preparing for the first cut which will happen during the first few weeks of December. Once the cut is complete, the core of the tank is removed, and a special riser will be inserted, which will support construction to support installation of the robotic arm.