Vit Plant receives test vessel to evaluate radioactive waste mix - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Vit Plant receives test vessel to evaluate radioactive waste mixing

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RICHLAND, WA - A 65-ton vessel critical to determining the safe mixing and processing of radioactive waste at the Hanford Vit Plant arrived in Richland yesterday.

Testing will be conducted on the vessel to determine mixing performance using nonradioactive materials that are simulants of the actual waste stream. Proper mixing is required to safely process and treat the waste at the Vit Plant’s Pretreatment Facility.

The test vessel is a full-scale prototype of several vessels that are expected to be used to process liquid radioactive waste containing solids. Bechtel is building the Vit Plant, also known as the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, for the U.S. Department of Energy at the Hanford Site in southeastern Washington state. When complete, it will vitrify most of the 56 million gallons of the country’s most complex nuclear waste currently stored in tanks on the Hanford site.

The vessel was barged up the Columbia River from Vancouver, Washington. Greenberry Industrial fabricated the vessel at its manufacturing facilities in Vancouver and Corvallis, Oregon.

It will be loaded into the Full-Scale Vessel Test Facility in Richland through the roof and placed in a specially designed test stand. Reassembling the test stand and completing preparations for testing will take several months. The year-long testing program is expected to begin in late 2016.

The testing process:

Critical to mixing performance are the pulse-jet mixers installed inside the vessel. They work much like turkey basters – withdrawing fluid and expelling it – mixing vessel contents in the process.

Testing is being conducted to confirm the pulse-jet mixers and associated control systems meet their mixing functions. Hanford’s radioactive liquid tank waste has a wide-range of chemical and physical characteristics, which present unique challenges in mixing tank waste.

To conduct the tests, non-radioactive fluid and particulate material, simulating the Hanford tank waste, will be added to the vessel. Once this simulated waste is added, the vessel’s operating weight will be 310 tons.

Previous tests using a smaller vessel confirmed that control equipment can reliably operate the pulse jet mixers. The new vessel will be used to test the equipment at full scale.

The 35-foot high by 16-foot diameter stainless steel test vessel has a volume of 22,000 gallons, equivalent to 2.5 tanker trucks.

Test results will be used to support technical decisions that have curtailed or slowed construction on the Pretreatment Facility.