Sand Mantis Unveiled - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Sand Mantis Unveiled

RICHLAND, Wash.- CH2M Hill has developed the Sand Mantis, a new tool that takes rock salt type waste, and turns it into a fine, powdery waste.

It's controlled with a Playstation 2 controller, allowing CH2M Hill to remotely clean the waste out of Hanford's tanks.

"You saw the Sand Mantis which can spray 35,000 PSI water, and has a Vortex Pump, no moving parts pump which can pull waste out of the tanks," said Rick Raymond, the company's Director of S-Farm Retrievals. 

$2.7 million dollars in the making, the Sand Mantis helps clean out nearly 60 years of solidified waste in the tanks, and it didn't take long for the idea to become reality.

"We were first discussing this technology, the original Salt Mantis technology last spring," said Pat Fisher, inventor of the Sand Mantis.

"We were able to show them a working model in 6 weeks."

While development was relatively quick, that doesn't mean there weren't any roadblocks, simply getting it into a tank is the hardest part.

"Everything has to fit down a 12 inch riser, and then it has to reconfigure itself so that it can then walk around the tank and take the pump to any part of the tank," said Raymond.

"And take that high pressure spray nozzle."

The Sand Mantis replaces the Salt Mantis, and allows CH2M Hill to suck the waste out after it is broken up, which was not possible before, helping them reach their goal of less than 2,700 gallons of waste per tank.

It will also reduce cleanup costs as the $2.7 million dollar tool replaces the original $12 million per tank estimate.