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Yakima Branch Meeting – Bechtel Vitrification Plant

October 17, 2013 @ 12:00 am - 1:00 pm

The Vitrification Plant at Hanford

Presentation Overview:

Bechtel – Hanford Vit Plant

We are excited to have Mr. Nelson and Mr. Theriault speak at this month’s meeting about one of the largest clean-up projects in the world.  Last year we had a presentation on the project by Dan McDonald with the Department of Ecology.  This year we are able to hear how the project is progressing directly from Bechtel.

Presenter Backgrounds

Todd Nelson is external affairs manager for Bechtel National’s Waste Treatment Plant Project in Richland. He grew up in the Tri-Cities and has worked at Hanford most of his career and for Bechtel for the last 13 years.

Phillippe Theriault is civil, structural and architectural engineering group supervisor for the Low Activity Waste Vitrification Facility. He has worked for Bechtel for six years and also worked for Canam Steel Corp. in Sunnyside.

Project Background (from the Bechtel Fact Sheet)

See the link here for more information:

The Hanford Site, located in southeastern Washington state, was the largest of three defense production sites in the U.S.  Over the span of 40 years, it was used to produce 64 metric tons of plutonium, helping end World War II and playing a major role in military defense efforts during the Cold War. As a result, 56 million gallons of radioactive and chemical wastes are now stored in 177 underground tanks on the Hanford Site.

To address this challenge, the U.S. Department of Energy contracted Bechtel National, Inc., to design and build the world’s largest radioactive waste treatment plant.  The Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP), also known as the “Vit Plant,” will use vitrification to immobilize most of Hanford’s dangerous tank waste.  Vitrification involves blending the waste with molten glass, heating it to high temperatures, then pouring it into stainless steel canisters. In this glass form, the waste is stable and impervious to the environment, and its radioactivity will dissipate over hundreds to thousands of years.

The WTP will cover 65 acres with four nuclear facilities – Pretreatment, High-Level Waste Vitrification, Low-Activity Waste Vitrification and an Analytical Laboratory – as well as operations and maintenance buildings, utilities and office space. Site preparation began in October 2001, and the concrete for the first nuclear facility’s foundation was placed in July 2002.

The Hanford Tank Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP), also known as the Vit Plant, will eliminate the environmental threat posed by 56 million gallons of radioactive and chemical waste currently stored at the Hanford Site.


Dustin Posten


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