Another component of Washington River Protection Solutions’ (WRPS) mission is to safely manage waste until it is treated and disposed of.
Tank Integrity Program
WRPS has put together a team of engineers to review all pertinent information regarding construction and operation of Hanford’s waste tanks. These experts monitor the integrity of the tanks via a program that examines waste chemistry, corrosion rates, storage histories and changing conditions. Tank inspections are performed regularly through ultrasonic testing, visual inspection and waste sampling. These inspections provide important information and can alert engineers to any potential issues regarding the structural integrity of the underground waste storage tanks.
Hanford’s 149 single-shell tanks have long since passed their original design life but will continue to store waste for many more years. Because the single-shell tanks will hold waste far longer than originally expected, it is critical that they remain as sound as possible until the waste in these tanks can be removed.
Tank Storage Space
Another critical part of managing the waste relates to the amount of available storage space in the tanks. As the last operating nuclear processing facility at Hanford, the 242-A Evaporator is critical to the cleanup mission. The evaporator creates additional storage space in double-shell tanks by removing water and concentrating the liquid waste, making it possible to transfer the waste from single-shell tanks.
In the last several years, the 242-A Evaporator has undergone major upgrades. Workers finished modernizing the ventilation, monitoring and control systems; have rebuilt one of two main pumps; and have removed nearly all of the radioactive contamination in the condenser room, which serves as the operating heart of the facility.