Way back since 1898, US-based Bechtel Corporation has been helping its customers complete projects in 160 countries on all seven continents. So far, the company has delivered more than 25,000 projects. Recently, it has successfully accomplished the first set of test glass pours into a stainless-steel storage container designed to hold vitrified radioactive and chemical waste. This is a critical step in the Department of Energy’s mission to treat waste in south-eastern Washington state.
The Bechtel-designed Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant is a one-of-a-kind vitrification facility that will use two melters to treat low-level chemical and radioactive waste and protect the nearby Columbia River from waste dating back to World War II and the Cold War.
Earlier this summer, the Bechtel team heated the first of the two 300-ton melters in the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit. Once at that operating temperature, 30,000 lbs. of frit, or small glass beads sourced from a local business, were added to the melter to form a pool of molten test glass. Recently, the Bechtel team has celebrated the successful filling of the first container with clean test glass, marking a major milestone for the project.
Commenting on the development, Project Director and Bechtel Senior Vice President Brian Hartman, said, “The Bechtel team has made history by filling the first stainless-steel container with molten test glass from the world’s largest nuclear waste melter. This accomplishment stands as a testament to our unwavering dedication to safety, excellence, and collaboration. Our team has worked tirelessly to achieve this milestone. Their tenacity and dedication are truly inspiring.”
The first of the specially designed stainless-steel containers that will eventually hold vitrified low-activity chemical and radioactive tank waste has now completed its journey through the LAW Facility.
Expressing his pleasure on the Bechtel team’s success, President of Bechtel National, Inc., Dena Volovar, said, “I am immensely proud of our team for the attention to detail and dedication to safety that has led them to this milestone. This sort of focus will be vital as the team begins the rigorous cold and hot commissioning processes, and applying lessons learned from the heatup of the first melter to the second. The mission to clean up waste and protect the local community and environment is one Bechtel is proud to support.”
During the cold and hot commissioning process, tests will be conducted using non-radioactive simulants to ensure the LAW Facility is operating as expected.