WRPS MEETING THE CHALLENGE OF TANK WASTE

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Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) is the Hanford tank operations contractor, charged with managing one of the most challenging environmental cleanup projects in the nation. The U.S. Department of Energy hired WRPS to manage 56 million gallons of high-level radioactive waste stored in 177 underground tanks. The waste is the legacy of 45 years of plutonium production for the U. S. nuclear arsenal. WRPS mission is three-fold: safely manage the waste until it can be processed and immobilized; develop the tools and techniques to retrieve the waste from the tanks, and build the infrastructure needed to deliver the waste to ... continued below

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JC, BRITTON February 21, 2012.

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This article is part of the collection entitled: Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports and was provided by UNT Libraries Government Documents Department to Digital Library, a digital repository hosted by the UNT Libraries. More information about this article can be viewed below.

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  • Hanford Site (Wash.)
    Publisher Info: Hanford Site (HNF), Richland, WA (United States))
    Place of Publication: Richland, Washington

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Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) is the Hanford tank operations contractor, charged with managing one of the most challenging environmental cleanup projects in the nation. The U.S. Department of Energy hired WRPS to manage 56 million gallons of high-level radioactive waste stored in 177 underground tanks. The waste is the legacy of 45 years of plutonium production for the U. S. nuclear arsenal. WRPS mission is three-fold: safely manage the waste until it can be processed and immobilized; develop the tools and techniques to retrieve the waste from the tanks, and build the infrastructure needed to deliver the waste to the Waste Treatment Plant (WTP) when it begins operating. WTP will 'vitrify' the waste by mixing it with silica and other materials and heating it in an electric melter. Vitrification turns the waste into a sturdy glass that will isolate the radioactivity from the environment. It will take more than 20 years to process all the tank waste. The tank waste is a complex highly radioactive mixture of liquid, sludge and solids. The radioactivity, chemical composition of the waste and the limited access to the underground storage tanks makes retrieval a challenge. Waste is being retrieved from aging single-shell tanks and transferred to newer, safer double-shell tanks. WRPS is using a new technology known as enhanced-reach sluicing to remove waste. A high-pressure stream of liquid is sprayed at 100 gallons per minute through a telescoping arm onto a hard waste layer several inches thick covering the waste. The waste is broken up, moved to a central pump suction and removed from the tank. The innovative Mobile Arm Retrieval System (MARS) is also being used to retrieve waste. MARS is a remotely operated, telescoping arm installed on a mast in the center of the tank. It uses multiple technologies to scrape, scour and rake the waste toward a pump for removal. The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) provided nearly $326 million over two-and-a-half years to modernize the infrastructure in Hanford's tank farms. WRPS issued 850 subcontracts totaling more than $152 million with nearly 76 percent of that total awarded to small businesses. WRPS used the funding to upgrade tank farm infrastructure, develop technologies to retrieve and consolidate tank waste and extend the life of two critical operating facilities needed to feed waste to the WTP. The 222-S Laboratory analyzes waste to support waste retrievals and transfers. The laboratory was upgraded to support future WTP operations with a new computer system, new analytical equipment, a new office building and a new climate-controlled warehouse. The 242-A Evaporator was upgraded with a control-room simulator for operator training and several upgrades to aging equipment. The facility is used to remove liquid from the tank waste, creating additional storage space, necessary for continued waste retrievals and WTP operation. The One System Integrated Project Team is ajoint effort ofWRPS and Bechtel National to identify and resolve common issues associated with commissioning, feeding and operating the Waste Treatment Plant. Two new facilities are being designed to support WTP hot commlsslomng. The Interim Hanford Storage project is planned to store canisters of immobilized high-level radioactive waste glass produced by the vitrification plant. The facility will use open racks to store the 15-foot long, two-foot diameter canisters of waste, which require remote handling. The Secondary Liquid Waste Treatment Project is a major upgrade to the existing Effluent Treatment Facility at Hanford so it can treat about 10 million gallons of liquid radioactive and hazardous effluent a year from the vitrification plant. The One System approach brings the staff of both companies together to identify and resolve WTP safety issues. A questioning attitude is encouraged and an open forum is maintained for employees to raise issues. WRPS is completing its mission safely with record-setting safety performance. Since WRPS took over the Hanford Tank Operations Contract in October 2008, the recordable injury rate has decreased 43 percent, while the lost work-days rate decreased by 30 percent. The company recently surpassed three million hours worked without a lost workday accident.

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  • Journal Name: PRE-PUBLICATION - FOR INCLUSION IN THE TRI-CITY HERALD PROGRESS EDITION

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  • Report No.: WRPS-51908
  • Grant Number: DE-AC27-08RV14800
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1038047
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc829251

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • February 21, 2012

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • July 25, 2016, 6:32 p.m.

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JC, BRITTON. WRPS MEETING THE CHALLENGE OF TANK WASTE, article, February 21, 2012; Richland, Washington. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc829251/: accessed April 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.