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The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Environmental Management's Hanford Site has started to heat the world's largest melter at the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant.
According to an Oct. 11 news release, the purpose of the melter is to convert chemical and radioactive tank waste currently stored in subterranean tanks into a type of vitrified glass safe for disposal. The heating of the melter is necessary to commission the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant.
“Over the last two years, the Department and its One Hanford contractors have made significant progress in the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste Program to prepare for treating tank waste,” EM Office of River Protection and Richland Operations Office Brian Vance said in the release. “We are building on this progress by beginning to heat up the first WTP melter using a disciplined approach.”
“When we finish heating up the first melter, that will be another significant step in commissioning the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant for future operations,” Project Director and Bechtel National Inc. Senior Vice President Valerie McCain said, according to the release. “I’m proud of our team and our alumni who made this possible.”
After it's properly heated, the first melter will remain active using nonradioactive materials, and notes taken from the first melter will be used to start the process to heat and commission the second melter, the release reported. Once both melters are at operating temperature, the facility will run simulated waste through them as a means of preparing to vitrify waste.