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Environmental Management- Hanford Site

Located in Washington State, the Hanford Site is a former plutonium production complex with nine nuclear reactors and associated processing facilities located along the Columbia River in southeastern Washington State. The site is under the direction of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Part of the Largest U.S. Environmental Clean-Up Project

The Hanford Site is a former plutonium production complex with nine nuclear reactors and associated processing facilities located along the Columbia River in south-eastern Washington State. Hanford is part of the U.S. Department of Energy's environmental management program, the largest environmental cleanup project in the nation. CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company (CHPRC) is prime contractor for the safe, environmental clean-up of the Central Plateau at the Hanford Site and cleanup of waste sites and contaminated groundwater to eliminate risks to the Columbia River.

As a pre-selected subcontractor to CHPRC, Orano provides technical support for clean-up activities such as:

  • Deactivation, decontamination, decommissioning, and demolition of nuclear facilities and processing canyons and closure of the Plutonium Finishing Plant;
  • Cleaning up waste sites and treating contaminated groundwater;
  • Stabilizing and disposition of hazardous wastes.

The project began in October of 2008 and is ongoing. Near-term mission objectives include: shrinking the Hanford site footprint; moving hazardous materials away from the Columbia River; accelerating groundwater remediation along the river; and, retrieving buried waste and repackaging it for final disposal.

Orano provides CHPRC with support for mission objectives in: engineering, design, and technical services for activities such as the Soil and Groundwater Remediation Project, the K-Basin Sludge Treatment Project, and other Waste and Fuels Management projects; executive management for Engineer-Procure-Construct (EPC) projects; expert review panel participation; and, technology development and technology transfer services. Some notable areas of recent support include:

  • KW Basin Annex design
    Design and project management support for modifying the KW Basin facility.
  • Sludge Treatment Project process development
    Chemical engineering to develop treatment processes for highly radioactive K-Basin sludge.
  • Transportation and Packaging technologies
    Transportation packages and canister/cask systems for used fuel handling and dry fuel storage, and safety analysis and logistical support for waste package transportation activities.
  • Non-Destructive Examination and Assay equipment and services
    NDE equipment and services for hazardous material retrieval and repackaging, NDA equipment and services for characterizing radioactive materials.
  • Facility Decontamination tools and processes
    Transfer of technologies for D&D of nuclear facilities, including formulation and application of contamination fixatives and development/deployment of surface contamination cleaning tools.

Tank Operations at the Hanford Site

Orano is a preselected subcontractor to Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), a subcontractor to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), for the Tank Operations Contract (TOC) at the Hanford site in Washington State. The TOC is the complex and challenging environmental cleanup of 53 million gallons of residual radioactive and chemical waste stored in 177 large aging underground tanks grouped in 18 farms at the 586 square mile Hanford site, in Washington State.

This project began in May of 2008 and is ongoing. WRPS is primarily responsible for furnishing safe, compliant, cost-effective, and energy-efficient services to further the DOE Office of River Protection’s mission to store, retrieve and treat Hanford tank waste; store and dispose of treated waste; and close the tank farm waste management areas to protect the Columbia River.

The contents inside the tanks include material from the World War II years and post-war production of material for nuclear weapons. It accounts for 60% of the nation’s high-level radioactive waste, making the Hanford tank farms the largest and most complex environmental cleanup project in the country.

Orano contributes to solving the mission challenges by bringing a combination of key personnel with significant Hanford experience and by providing access to its vast nuclear and engineering know how. Some of the technologies identified as potentially useful to the WRPS team include enhanced chemical cleaning, Lithium Hydrotalcite treatment, and Cold Crucible Induction Melters.

Orano is continually working to provide coordination and solutions to challenges as they arise in the project.

Hanford Evaporator Project

The Hanford Waste Treatment Plant is being designed and built by Bechtel National, Inc. as the world’s largest radioactive waste treatment plant for the U.S. DOE at the Hanford site in southeastern Washington State. It is at this plant that the process of vitrification will immobilize the radioactive liquid waste that is currently stored in 177 underground tanks.

Orano has created and implemented the conceptual and preliminary designs, and is currently working on completing the final design. AFS designed the following subsystems:

  • A heat exchanger-separator-pump recirculation loop with controls;
  • A steam conditioning (desuperheater-flow meter-control valve) loop;
  • A condensate control loop that circulates condensate back into the process liquor; and
  • A distillation loop that reclaims nearly all of the nitric acid used in resin bed regeneration and returns it for reuse.

All structures, subsystems and components are designed to meet industry regulations, such as ASME, ASCE and ICEE design codes, while meeting both static and dynamic seismic analyses. Orano also performed Commercial Grade Dedication of many parts.

The evaporators are designed for high performance (2E7 Decontamination Factor), high throughput (30 gallons per minute boil-off per system), high reliability, and a 40-year service life.  

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Paul Murray
(formerly AREVA Federal Services)