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Projects & Facilities

Cold Test Facility

Cold Test Facility image 2More than 56 million gallons of chemical and nuclear waste are stored in 158 underground tanks at the Hanford Site. Ultimately these wastes will be removed from the tanks and transferred to the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant at Hanford, where the waste will be immobilized in a glass matrix through a process called vitrification.
However, removing the waste from these underground storage tanks isn’t easy. The tanks were built decades ago and weren’t designed to allow workers to easily access the materials inside. Pumps, ventilation systems and monitoring equipment were installed in the tanks, but the only way crews can get at the waste itself is by lowering equipment through pipes extending out of the tops of various tanks. Adding to the challenge is the fact that these pipes can be as small as four inches in diameter, the waste itself is extremely hazardous, some of the waste is in a semisolid state, and the waste may be located in areas of the tank that are hard to reach.
Hanford crews designed and built the innovative Cold Test Facility (CTF) to develop ways to remove the waste from the tanks on the Site without having to subject workers or equipment to the radioactive environment inside them. The CTF is a full-size mock-up of a Hanford single-shell waste-storage tank. Workers can simulate the conditions inside a tank while testing new equipment and technologies that could help remove tank waste. 

Using the CTF eliminates the trial-and-error method of removing tank waste, at a considerable cost savings. If equipment designed to remove tank waste isn’t successful during testing at the CTF, then it won’t be put into service at Hanford. Similarly, if a product is developed that works in the testing environment at CTF, it will continue to be evaluated for possible use in the real tanks at the Site.

Several new technologies have been designed, developed and successfully tested at the CTF and have then been used to remove tank waste at Hanford. With many tanks to be emptied on the Site, the CTF is expected to continue providing opportunities to test new ways to safely remove the waste in the years to come.
Last Updated 10/26/2023 8:31 AM