PNNL project turns radioactive tank waste into glass - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

PNNL project turns radioactive tank waste into glass

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RICHLAND, WA - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory recently turned three gallons of low radioactive tank waste into glass.

This demonstration done at the PNNL labs is a step forward to eventually treating millions of gallons of hazardous waste from the plutonium production at Hanford in the past.

"It's an important milestone in confirming that all that information is correct for the real plant," said Will Eaton, Lead of the Vitrification Project.

This vitrification process traps the radioactive materials within the class, making them bound as part of the glass material. This laboratory scale material is an important step to eventually moving to high radioactive material in the future.

"But the real advantage here is trying it for real before we try it in a plant, and we just have this opportunity to do that because if we have to learn things in the plant, it could cost us a lot of money and time," Eaton said.

In fact, this is designed to mimic the process being constructed at Hanford, where low activity waste will be sent to the Waste Treatment Plant to be vitrified inside large smelters.

"What we are trying to do is do the actual steps that would be done to the waste," explained Eaton. "As close as you can and in a small test system. We'll do that exact process to the actual waste. So that we are staying as true to what the real plant would do."