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EM Update | Vol. 13, Issue 37 | Sept. 21, 2021


‘Frit’ a Critical Ingredient in Hanford’s Melter Heatup Recipe


Glass frit like this will be used in the process of heating up the first melter inside the Low-Activity Waste Facility at the Hanford Site. The frit is provided through a contract with Fluids Controls and Components Inc. of Richland, Washington, and mimics waste by dissolving into a solid form at high temperatures to assist during the melter heatup process.

RICHLAND, Wash. – A material resembling small glass beads will serve as a critical ingredient to heating up the first melter at Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) set for later this year.

Glass frit is a mixture of chemicals that will mimic waste materials during the melter heatup process in the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility. The melter is at the heart of the vitrification process that transforms radioactive and chemical waste into an immobilized glass form safe for disposal through the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) Program. The DFLAW Program is a system of interdependent projects and infrastructure improvements, managed and highly integrated, that must operate together to vitrify the waste.

Richland-based company Fluids Controls and Components Inc. (FCCI) was contracted by Bechtel National Inc. (BNI), the prime contractor designing, building, and commissioning the plant, to provide 108,000 pounds of the frit. FCCI has also provided valves, piping, and piping components for plant construction.

“It was the first time we dealt with frit,” said Russ Watson, FCCI vice president. “The chemistry and physical profile of the frit were very complex. The specifications were strict, and the monitoring process was extensive.”

During vitrification, waste treated near large underground tanks to remove radioactive cesium and solids will be mixed with glass-forming materials, then fed to the LAW Facility’s melters. The mixture will be heated to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit and poured into specially designed stainless-steel containers for disposal at the nearby Integrated Disposal Facility.

The frit will be used only during melter heatup. It mimics waste by dissolving into a solid form at high temperatures. During the heatup process, the glass frit will be flushed out of the melter with a simulated feed.

“Partners like FCCI are crucial to the success of the project,” said Frank Salaman, procurements and subcontracts manager for BNI. “We rely on them to meet the complex specifications the project requires.”

The project team is scheduled to initiate heatup of the first melter by the end of 2021. Information on the commissioning process, including a loss-of-power test and melter heatup, is available on the Journey to Melter Heatup website.

The plant facilities can be viewed using the self-guided Hanford Virtual Tour.

-Contributor: Patti Jones

SRS Expands Canister Double-Stacking to Second Building


Crews at Savannah River Remediation successfully double-stacked the first canisters in an underground vault in the Glass Waste Storage Building 2 at the Savannah River Site using the shielded canister transporter.

AIKEN, S.C. – EM has demonstrated the capability to expand double-stacking high-level waste canisters at the Savannah River Site (SRS), an approach that saves the cleanup program more than $100 million.

For the first time in Glass Waste Storage Building (GWSB) 2, crews with SRS liquid waste contractor Savannah River Remediation (SRR) recently demonstrated stacking two canisters, one on top of the other. GWSB 2 is the second of two interim storage facilities for the stainless-steel canisters. The canisters are maneuvered using the one-of-a-kind shielded canister transporter (SCT).

Jim Folk, DOE-Savannah River assistant manager for waste disposition, said demonstrating double-stack capabilities in GWSB 2 means EM will not have to build an additional interim storage facility for canisters, saving more than $100 million.

“The Department of Energy is focused on completing the liquid waste mission at SRS,” Folk said. “Canister double-stacking is an innovative solution for providing the interim storage options needed for the high-level waste canisters.”

The canisters hold glassified high-level waste from the Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF). Double-stacking canisters has already proven successful in GWSB 1. Just over 1,350 canisters have been double stacked in the first building since the project began in August 2016. SRR has exceeded its fiscal 2021 goal of double-stacking 300 canisters in GWSB 1.

SRR President and Project Manager Phil Breidenbach said the double-stack demonstration is another example of SRR’s core value of continuous improvement.

“We have proven it is safe, feasible, and effective to expand the canister double-stack project into Glass Waste Storage Building 2,” Breidenbach said. “The innovative thinking of our engineers and performance of our construction team have proved expanding the double-stacking improves the process and saves money, a win-win.”

If fully implemented in both GWSB 1 and GWSB 2, this technique will increase the total storage capacity in both buildings to 9,204 canisters, exceeding the total number of canisters projected to be produced by DWPF.

The canisters will be safely stored underground in the GWSBs until a federal repository for high-level waste is established.

A feasibility study for double-stacking canisters in GWSB 2 verified the safety basis, radiological, fire protection, structural, environment, and other technical evaluations for GWSB 2 double-stacking.

-Contributor: Colleen Hart

West Valley Repurposes Facility to Support Main Plant Demolition


Workers at the West Valley Demonstration Project safely remove a section of a concrete shield wall as part of modifications to a former waste storage facility. A new rollup door will be installed in the opening. This facility will support waste operations during the future demolition of the Main Plant Process Building.

WEST VALLEY, N.Y. – The West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP) is altering a former storage facility for use in processing waste during the demolition of the Main Plant Process Building.
“The modifications to this facility are a step towards the future demolition of the Main Plant Process Building,” EM WVDP Director Bryan Bower said. “This work also saves taxpayers money by using this former storage facility for a different purpose and operation. The WVDP team is doing an excellent job in planning and executing this work.”


A view of a former waste storage facility at the West Valley Demonstration Project after crews created an opening to accommodate a large fork truck for transporting waste containers in and out of the building for off-site disposal.

Operating from 1966 to 1972, the five-story, 350,000-square-foot Main Plant is a former commercial reprocessing facility that had been used to recover plutonium and uranium from spent nuclear reactor fuel.

EM and its WVDP cleanup contractor, CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley, modified the former waste storage facility by constructing an opening to accommodate a large fork truck for transporting waste containers in and out of the building. The waste will be shipped by rail for off-site disposal.

Workers removed sheet metal that covered the storage facility to expose an interior concrete shield wall, which they safely cut into sections for removal. They reinstalled the metal covering around the new opening, and a rollup door will be installed. Crews also will build entrances and exits for workers.

The 17,250-square-foot storage facility was constructed in 1987 for remote loading, placement, and shielded storage for approximately 20,000, 71-gallon square drums of waste generated from previous operations. Workers shipped the drums for off-site disposal in 2006 and 2007.

-Contributor: Joseph Pillittere

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