Energy Secretary Brouillette Views Progress At Hanford Site

From left, Tom Fletcher, EM federal project director for the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, and Val McCain, Bechtel National Inc. project director for the plant, brief U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette on progress on preparations to treat tank waste. Courtesy/EM

EM News:

RICHLAND, Wash. – Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette had an opportunity last week to see progress being made at the Hanford Site by two Department of Energy offices, four major contractors and nearly 11,000 site employees working together as a One Hanford team, which is making preparations to treat tank waste and reduce site risks to protect the workforce, the public and the environment.

U.S. Representatives Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Energy Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar joined Brouillette during the visit. They toured multiple facilities, including key sections of the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) under construction by Bechtel National. They also discussed completion of startup testing, and learned more about the progress at Hanford both to date as well during the last several months of COVID-19 response.

“I’m pleased to see the tremendous work the team here at Hanford has done to protect its people, the communities and the Columbia River,” Brouillette said. “We are now getting ready to move into the tank cleanup phase and address it in a safe, timely and cost-effective manner.”

As a prevention measure against the spread of COVID-19, in March, Hanford leadership significantly reduced onsite staffing to those performing essential mission-critical work. Beginning in late May, leadership began a phased remobilization of operations, and approximately 45 percent of employees are now working on the site. An additional 45 percent continue to telework, supporting the site mission and keeping administrative and planning functions on schedule.

The Secretary received an update on the Tank-Side Cesium Removal system, which will pretreat tank waste for vitrification at the WTP. The pretreatment system, designed by tank operations contractor Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) and fabricated by subcontractor AVANTech, is a key component in the treatment of tank waste using the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) approach.

The cesium removal system recently passed factory acceptance testing at AVANTech’s facility in Richland, Wash., and will be moved to the Site later this year for installation and additional testing.